Monthly Archives: November 2014

Understanding Sustainability

We often hear the word sustainability tossed around, but what does this really mean? For those in plastic industry, it means we come up with options that reduce waste and reduce impact on the environment.

For many companies, including retail, food and pharmaceutical or medical firms, the need for packaging is great and thermoform packaging often is the most cost effective custom packaging solution. We offer many packaging options that are bio-based and renewable.

There are many key industry terms relating to sustainability, and it can be confusing to understand the specifics about each type of material. For instance, products often are listed as having recycled content. This means that the all or a portion of the materials used for that product came from pre-consumer or post-consumer waste.

Pre-consumer waste includes the excess plastic trimmed from a thermoform mold after a product or package is formed. Post-consumer waste is plastic that has been used by consumers and then sent to a recycling center. Many companies will opt for having products or packaging formed from recycled content.

Another option is a bio-based plastic and bioplastics and these are plastics that are made, partially or completely, using biological and renewable materials. Often these sources will include pea starch, cornstarch or vegetable oils. While they might be produced using biomass sources, bioplastic or bio-based plastics are not necessarily biodegradable, although some are compostable.

Biodegradable plastics are a type of plastic that can be decomposed by living organisms such as bacteria. Bioplastics, which are made from renewable sources, can be biodegradable, but some common plastic also can contain biodegradable additives which help them biodegrade. One thing to keep in mind is that while biodegradable plastics seem like a great option, some must be recycled at a specific composting facility that processes those types of plastic. Your basic curbside recycling program is not set up to handle biodegradable plastic so it can simply end up in a landfill anyway, which doesn’t really improve efforts at sustainability.

Of course, most thermoplastics in general can be recycled again and again, so while they might not all be compostable, most can be melted down and remolded into something new. Most curbside recycling programs accept plastics featuring a resin identification of 1 or 2, but some are even more expansive than that.

At Indepak, we are committed to protecting the environment and limiting our impact on the environment. We offer many post-consumer grade materials and almost all of the materials we use are recyclable. In addition, we do our best to minimize waste during production. We can offer our customers a custom packaging solution that keeps sustainability in mind throughout the process. If you need custom thermoforming, let Indepak design and create custom product packaging that meets all of your needs and goals.

Some Facts About Polystyrene

There are many different types of plastic, and while you might not know the names of most kinds of plastic, you definitely have heard of Styrofoam which is a brand name for polystyrene foam. While it technically was discovered in 1839 by a German apothecary in Berlin, it was not in widespread use until the 1940s when Dow Chemical created the process by which Styrofoam is made.

Polystyrene foam is an ideal material for many products because it very lightweight, in fact it is mostly air. It is used for cups, plates and food containers, as well as being used for thermal insulation. It is also used for craft products, such as the foam disks that florists will place in a bouquet to keep flowers arranged properly. Polystyrene also is used to make packing materials and is ideal because it can protect items in a box or crate without adding much additional weight.

While we all know that polystyrene can be found in a softer foam state such as it is in a take-out container from a restaurant, it also can be rigid and this type of polystyrene is used to make items such as disposable razors, CD jewel cases, plastic models, frames and much more. It can be an excellent option as it fairly durable and inexpensive.

Polystyrene technically can be recycled; although there are still many curbside recycling programs in the United States that still only accept polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene. In some areas of the country, polystyrene is banned for use as a food container. If you live in an area where polystyrene is not allowed, Indepak can provide you with other custom packaging solutions for your thermoform packaging that is also quite lightweight and a good choice for food storage or for any type of retail product or container.

At Indepak, we offer many different options of custom thermoforming, and can create a package or product that suits your needs and budget. Whether you need thermoform packaging, thermoform trays, thermoformed foam products or other custom product packaging, we can help every step of the way.

Thermoform Packaging: Design & Marketing

For many industries, how your product looks can be almost as important as the quality of your product. People are attracted to clever, appealing package designs, so one should never overlook the importance of quality custom product packaging.

One of the advantages of custom thermoforming is that you can create virtually any design or shape of package. Thermoforming is a process by which thin sheets of packaging are heated until malleable and then shaped using thermoform molds. Once cooled, excess plastic is trimmed away and you have a finished product.

These thermoform molds can be completely customized to any shape or size that you might need. At Indepak, we are a thermoforming company that helps our clients through every stage of product development beginning with the all-important design stage.

We begin by assessing your product and deciding the best materials to use for protection and convenience. There are many different types of thermoform plastics to consider, and they have many advantages over other materials. In addition to the fact that they can be molded into any imaginable shape, plastics are quite protective and durable, resisting damage from water or liquids as well as resisting rust.

Many types of plastics can hold solvents, such as cleaning chemicals or acidic liquids. Other types of plastics are quite heat-resistant and can be placed in a microwave or cleaned in a standard dishwasher for reuse. We can help you find a plastic that will protect your product and then work on a design that will entice your potential customers.

When designing a package, you will want the shape and appearance to be quite eye-catching. If your packaging labels and design are bland and boring, people simply pass over your product and select one that is more attention-grabbing. One component of package design would be to do some research about your ideal customer and learn about the types of designs that would appeal to this demographic.

For instance, for a product that is aimed at children, you will want something colorful and fun. For an upscale product, you will want a product and label design that is classy and chic. With plastics, we can create all sorts of interesting designs or perhaps keep the thermoforming design quite simple and let the labels entice the customer.

At Indepak, our goal is to help you get the most out of your packaging. Our custom packaging solutions are client-specific and we serve a wide variety of industries, from retail to food production to agricultural and pharmaceutical companies. Give us a call today and we can get started on the design process for your custom product packaging.

The Truth About BPA

These days we hear a lot about a chemical known as BPA. Many people are worried about this substance, particularly about it being used in products such as plastic water bottles and baby bottles. Here is a look at BPA, what it actually is and the potential dangers of this substance.

BPA is the abbreviation for Bisphenol A, which is a synthetic compound that has been in use since the late 1950s. The compound was discovered as early at 1891 by a Russian chemist, and it eventually became used to help harden certain types of plastic and also was used to make epoxy resin. This resin often was used in the lining of food containers and also beverage containers.

In the 1990s, a few studies began to show that there might be some level of danger if the chemical leached into food or drinks. According to a few small studies, children and infants seemed to be in the highest risk group as baby bottles and children’s cups often were made with thermoplastic that contained BPA. However, the EPA as well as the Food Standards Agency of the United Kingdom both have stated that BPA poses no health risks. The EPA states that their “current perspective is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.”

Still, people tend to remain concerned about BPA, but it’s quite easy to find plastic packaging and products that are BPA-free. It might interest you to note that there are many types of thermoplastics and very few of them actually contain BPA.

Take a look at any plastic container or bottle and you will see a resin identification code inside a triangle. We typically think of these as recycling codes, letting us know which items can be placed in our recycling bins. However, they also tell us what type of plastic is used to make a product.

Most thermoplastics don’t contain BPA, and those listed with a number 1, 2, 4 and 5 do not contain BPA. If a plastic features the codes 3, 6 or 7, these items may or may not contain BPA. If you have a concern about BPA, simply use plastic containers, bottles and other items with a 1, 2, 4 or 5 listed on them or products that are listed as BPA-free.

At Indepak, we offer our clients a wide variety of custom packaging solutions. We are a thermoforming company that can create virtually any type of thermoform packaging you might need, including BPA-free packaging and even thermoform packaging created using post-consumer grade materials. Whether you need blister packaging, clamshell packaging, thermoform trays or another type of custom product packaging, Indepak can help you every step along the way.