MeadWestvaco among packaging suppliers offering paper-based packaging alternatives to plastic clamshell packaging as retailers, manufacturers look to cut costs

LOS ANGELES , June 2, 2011 () – Packaging suppliers like MeadWestvaco Corp. have been offering paper-based alternatives to plastic clamshells as demand increased from retailers looking to cut costs, reported The New York Times on June 1.

Recently, Richmond, Virginia-based MeadWestvaco introduced its Natralock packaging, which is an update to the paperboard blister packs that have been around for years.

To tamper-evident paperboard it initially supplied for pharmaceutical trials, the company added a clear laminate, combined two paperboard sheets, and provided a cutout in the middle and a plastic bubble to view the product, the Times reported.

The packaging’s film was not available until recently because the market wasn’t there to support its development, said Jeff Kellogg, MeadWestvaco’s VP of consumer electronics and security packaging.

But, as oil prices rose in 2008 and again this year, costs for making plastics packaging climbed and increased demand for alternatives, he said, reported the Times.

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Target Corp. has redesigned some light bulb packages to get rid of plastic, took away the plastic lids from its Archer Farms yogurts and is packing its socks in a paper band instead of in plastic bags.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. started using Natralock packaging last year, the Times reported.

All of the Swiss Army knives and about 85% of the computer memory sector have shifted to the new packaging, according to MeadWestvaco, which did not disclose usage numbers.

Compared to clamshell packaging, Natralock cuts plastic usage by an average 60%, is 30% lighter; 20%-30% cheaper to produce and has 30%-40% more density for fitting more packages on store shelves, reported the Times.

Natralock also helps prevent theft by being hard to tear and it has a Sensormatic tag that is linked to a store’s alarm system. The tag is hidden between two paperboard sheets, unlike clamshells, which have the sensor stuck on the outside, where it could be peeled off.

Clamshells also are difficult to open, and retailers such as Seattle, Washington-based Amazon Inc. have sought ways to make the unpacking experience easier for consumers, the Times reported.

Home Depot Inc. has “encouraged” its manufacturers to shift away from clamshells, and the Atlanta-based retailer is moving to paperboard packaging for its Husky tools, said Craig Menear, the company’s head of merchandizing.

The primary source of this article is The New York Times, New York, New York, on June 1, 2011.

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