Packaging Innovation Meets EHS: How to Ensure a Successful and Timely Launch
Cooking steel-cut oats. Booting up your laptop two minutes before a video conference. Waiting for the next season of your favorite streaming original series.
Some things seem to take forever ….
Launching a new packaging innovation project is no exception, especially when it involves new materials or production techniques that could involve a brand and converter’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team. After all, they’re watching out for employees and consumers, and they rightly should exercise great care in approving new ideas for food and beverage items.
With forethought and planning, however, there’s no reason why the EHS team should delay the rollout of packaging innovations. Here are some tips:
Put agreements in place right away
Naturally, a non-disclosure agreement should be the first step if you’re planning on sharing confidential brand or marketing strategies, images, and timelines. However, if you plan to ask your EHS team to look at specific materials, a solutions provider like CTI may want to narrow the delivery and possession of confidential test data to just the EHS team so that patented and trade-secret formulas don’t get passed around to irrelevant employees. Also, avoid boilerplate agreements that may include paragraphs about joint development and shared intellectual property ownership, which may not be in the interest of all parties. Not having needed agreements in place that allow sharing of vital information can delay a project for weeks – even months. But, on other hand, if you don’t need an agreement or already have one in place, don’t let it become a roadblock.
Nail down specs first The lynchpin for all successful projects: excellent discovery of success requirements and product specifications. Leave no stone unturned for what materials the brand may be concerned about, as well as what test standards they’ll use. For instance, most of CTI’s migration tests show below reportable limits of hazardous components; however, some major CPG food brands want to know the test results down to parts per trillion, not just billion. Test methods and procedures become everything at that precision level. When manufacturer, converter, and brand teams all know the success criteria, they can anticipate adjustments and not spend time learning about a bad actor, reformulating, reengineering, and retesting, which again can delay the project considerably.
Think ahead – use prior work One way to take a shortcut is to use tests that have been done previously and adjust calculations based on reasonable assumptions. For instance, if a migration test on clear PET film with CTI Solvent Glow-in-the-Dark had below reportable limits, chances are that adding a thicker laminate with commensurate barrier properties on the food-side of the structure will give even better results. There would be no need to retest unless some other variable changed. CTI offers customers prior test results and compliance documentation, when possible, to speed up approvals and help the EHS team give a favorable report that allows qualification and production to move ahead.
Sometimes, delays happen. Packaging designs evolve, new materials become available, graphic designs get modified and production processes change that influence the use case. An adhesive lamination structure may turn into a molten extrudate. The design area may increase, which impacts calculations for potential migration. Whatever curveball gets thrown, stay flexible and roll with the changes, knowing the goal of safety trumps all others.
CTI has experience navigating compliance requests from large CPG brands and keeping the launch date on track – contact us today to talk about your project.