Hughes Enterprises

The Future Of Plastic Bottles

The Future Of Plastic Bottles

Woman holding a plastic bottle of water, standing in front of a waterfall

As consumers have become more aware of the proliferation of plastic pollution in our landfills and oceans, product developers and researchers have been hard at work to develop plastic alternatives. Not only do these alternatives create longevity for the business but they also create positive outcomes for the environment.

Unfortunately, when plastic ends up in our oceans, it disintegrates and becomes absorbed by fish and sea animals. This affects sea populations and can end up on our dinner plates. With over 25% of consumers reporting to be extremely concerned about plastic packaging, it’s no wonder companies are acting quickly.

There are many applications for plastic in packaging that are being replaced by other types of materials. One of those items is the plastic bottle. Due to its widespread application, bottles are seen in every product market segment. Examples include beauty, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and automotive.

What is replacing the traditional plastic bottle? Let’s explore common alternative products and materials.

Eco-Friendly Plastics

Plant-based plastics, or bioplastics, are making headlines for their sustainable production and recycling capacity. Examples of plants that can be used to create bioplastics are corn, mushroom root, bagasse (a by-product of sugarcane processing), seaweed, barley and wheat.

Many of these bioplastics are biodegradable and compostable, bringing a strong consumer appeal. They are often cheaper to produce and have a lower impact on the environment during the production process.

Pouches

Pouches have endless uses and applications, and one of those is to replace bottles. Advancements in pouch durability has made it easy to contain liquids which would have previously been contained in plastic bottles.

Production costs are also lower with pouches – by over half – in comparison to plastic bottles. There’s also cost savings in shipping, from the large scale distribution down to individual packages. With e-commerce and food delivery being so popular, the need for lighter, more flexible materials is evident.

There are also usability benefits when it comes to a pouch (versus a plastic bottle). Pouches can fit easily in different sizes and shapes of spaces. There’s an unlimited number of accessories that can be added to pouches, such as zippers and spouts.

Common examples of pouches replacing bottles include:

  • Water bottles
  • Baby food
  • Cosmetics
  • Vitamins and pills
  • Sauces
  • Juices, teas, and other beverages

More Ways Bottles are Being Replaced

One potential replacement for plastic bottles is paper. Companies are getting creative with the way paperboard can be utilized in packaging. Advancements in paper products have led to waterproof solutions that are durable and multifunctional. Two prominent examples include paper water bottles and paper shower-friendly shampoo bottles.

Reusable containers have gained popularity as well. Metal and glass water bottles have emerged as an eco-friendly way to reuse and reduce. This gives companies an opportunity to sell their products in branded bottles that can be reused for other applications or as beverage containers, which expands brand awareness.

Another alternative is seaweed plastics. Seaweed plastic gained traction when the London Marathon replaced plastic bottles with edible water pouches made of seaweed. The seaweed is edible, creating a zero-waste alternative to plastic bottles.

Are You in Search of a Plastic Alternative?

The tides have shifted to a consumer perspective that is hypersensitive to sustainability in all of the products they use. Taking it further, if we want to have longevity with the resources that we depend on to operate our businesses, it’s important to find ways to reduce waste and find sustainable alternatives.

At Hughes, we’re always eager to help our customers find eco-friendly, sustainable methods for packaging their products. Contact a Hughes Packaging expert today to learn more about how we can help you make your packaging line more sustainable. 

Female hand holding smartphone and ordering food via a restaurant app

The Top 5 Challenges with Food Delivery

Female hand holding smartphone and ordering food via a restaurant app

Food delivery is still relatively new and has exploded due to apps such as Favor and Uber Eats. Consumers are also going online to order a variety of groceries. Additionally, e-retailers have come to the market with other food delivery options with products such as meats, candy, and ice cream. This is just the beginning for food delivery.

This is all in response to consumer demand. How we spend our days greatly impacts our time available for grocery shopping. Many people simply don’t have time to make it to the grocery store. Those who do have the spare time often opt to spend it with family or being engaged in a hobby, preferring to have their food delivered.

In addition to wanting to save time, consumers are also looking for ways to save money. When a company can make their products easy to access and cost-effective in the consumer eye, the brand value goes up. Here are the top 5 challenges that food delivery, food e-commerce, and e-grocery stores are facing when it comes to packaging.

Regulations and Safety

Food and beverage is a highly regulated industry, and for good reason. We rely on the government to make sure we are protected when it comes to the foods and other products that we ingest. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the labeling and other laws surrounding all food-contact materials. When foods are being shipped, there are additional regulatory concerns for keeping foods safe.

Smart packaging technology is key to the growth of the online grocery market. With the smart packaging technology that is available today, manufacturers are able to track each individual package and monitor how it fares through the fulfillment process. This gives food manufacturers the ability to learn more about the products that they are shipping to make improvements and develop new solutions. It also enables companies to respond more efficiently to recalls. Learn more about smart packaging technology.

Maintaining Temperature and Freshness

Keeping the quality and freshness of food delivered is the key to keeping customer loyalty. Customers have endless options when it comes to products, particularly in the food space, so it is important to make conscious efforts to ensure the freshness of the food. Food products undergo much stress during transit due to the vibrations and bumps on the ground. Innovative packaging products have emerged as a solution to keeping foods fresh and unaltered during transit.

Another issue that emerges during transit is temperature. Seasonality and location (origin and destination) can both affect the temperature during transit. Cold chain technology offers a way for frozen products to stay at a safe temperature.  

Speed

One issue that food delivery companies face is speed. This is twofold: (1) consumers are putting high pressure on companies to respond quickly and ship immediately; (2) if the food products are kept in the supply chain for too long, their shelf life after making it into the consumers hands diminishes. Many perishable food items can’t sustain being in processing and transit for more than a few days without compromising the quality for the customer.

Another area where speed is a concern is with restaurants delivering food through apps such as Favor and Uber Eats. Most customers who are ordering from an app want to have food in their hands in under an hour, or they will turn to other options. This requires sourcing drivers that are close to the restaurant and pairing customers with restaurants that are nearby. Another way restaurants have prepared for the influx of to-go orders is by having pre-packaged to-go items in single-serve packaging products.  

One solution to getting food products to customers quickly is through omni-channel, or ship from store, fulfillment. This involves shipping goods to customers from nearby stores. Essentially, brick-and-mortar stores also function as a mini-fulfillment center. This gets the products to the customer quickly and cuts down on costs across the board.

Adapting the Current Model

Walmart, Target, and Wholefoods are just a few of the big names that are offering online grocery shopping and grocery delivery. This puts pressure on other chains and stores to adapt their current sales and fulfillment model to match the competition. For all companies, this creates an opportunity to reimagine how the current model operates.

For example, companies have had to install separate freezers and storage areas for to-go and grocery delivery foods. Grocery stores have also integrated special parking for their grocery fulfillment customers.

Mixed Orders

When it comes to shipping foods and groceries, another challenge that companies face is that many orders have a variety of different products. A grocery order can include items that are frozen in addition to items that need to stay at room temperature. A restaurant to-go order could include food items that need to stay hot as well as entrees and desserts that need to stay cold.

This is where packaging companies come in to play. At Hughes, we have been responding to the unique challenges that come with food packaging for years and have developed solutions to help restaurants and grocery retailers respond to the new consumer demands. Contact a Hughes packaging expert to learn more about how we can help you with our food packaging.

Wide-angle view of a factory interior

4 Types of Equipment That Will Make Your Warehouse More Efficient

Wide-angle view of a warehouse interior

Efficiency is at the crux of innovation in today’s modern warehouse. There are a lot of reasons why a company chooses to invest in innovation and improvements, and most of those reasons center on efficiency. Investopedia describes efficiency as:

A level of performance that describes using the least amount of input to achieve the highest amount of output. Efficiency requires reducing the number of unnecessary resources used to produce a given output including personal time and energy.

The types of enhancements and improvements that make a difference impact output and often reduce the stressors on your workers. They also reduce the amount of time required to move products through the supply chain and to the end user.

Efficiency influences all areas of a company and even sub-segments of the supply chain. Suppliers can offer lower prices and higher quantities; companies can offer lower prices and reach more consumers.

Getting efficient in the warehouse has an impact across the board. Automation, robots, and cobots (or collaborative robots) historically had barriers due to cost, size, and other rigidness in functionality. Innovation has taken over, and advanced, modern equipment can be introduced for small and large companies alike.

While every warehouse has different needs, these 5 types of packaging equipment are multi-functional and have brought more efficiency to a wide span of industries.

Hand-Held and Tabletop Packaging Equipment

Hand-held and table-mounted packaging equipment are cost effective ways to increase efficiency in your warehouse, speed up processes, and reduce stress on warehouse staff. Applications include:

  • Automatic twist tie machines for industries like bakeries, retail, and e-commerce to speed up the twist tie process
  • Bag openers are convenient for assisting your packaging line workers when it comes to opening bags; our bag openers are adjustable for various sizes and are built to endure daily use and operation  
  • Label dispensers make it easy to adhere labels to your packaging and are available in a variety of sizes and functions

Click here to learn more about hand-held and table-mounted packaging equipment

Shrink Wrapping Equipment

Shrink wrap solutions are useful when packaging your products in bundles or groups. By shrink wrapping your products, you can reduce damage and keep your products protected, while at the same time optimizing storage space and making it easy to transport. We offer a variety of shrink wrapping equipment to serve a variety of applications and sizes:

  • Semi-automatic shrink wrappers
  • Fully-automatic shrink wrappers
  • Semi-automatic bundling equipment
  • Fully-automatic bundling equipment
  • L-Seal wrappers
  • Side seal wrappers
  • Shrink tunnels
  • Lap Seal systems

A Hughes packaging expert can help you to navigate the shrink wrap options listed above. Selecting the right shrink wrap film is just as important as selecting the right equipment. We offer the two most popular types of shrink film: PVC shrink film (for non-edible products) and Polyolefin shrink film (for more flexible storage).

Case Packers

Manual case packing is a dated and cumbersome task for warehouse workers. Case packers are the best solution for filling cases with products. This equipment increases product speed by reducing the amount of time it takes to fill a case, allowing you to get more product out the door at a faster rate.

There are a number of different case packers available depending on volume and size, as well as automated vs. semi-automated:

  • Drop packers: Pack at quicker speeds; heavy duty with fast changeovers
  • Hand pack stations: Useful for products that require inspection or are difficult to handle automatically; improves ergonomics for staff
  • Horizontal Case Packers: ideal for optimizing floor space and serving a variety of products
  • Pick and Place case packers: Customizable patterns and sizes; optimal solution for a variety of industries including food and beverage, e-commerce, and pharmaceutical

Click here to learn more about our case packers.

Palletizers

Using a palletizer solves the end of line logistics issue of organizing and transporting products. Using equipment for palletizing helps to make your workforce more efficient and increase the rate at which products are able to be sent out for transit. Like the other packaging equipment we offer, palletizers come in a variety of applications, sizes, and functionalities:

  • Low level palletizers: The most economic option to increase productivity and seamlessly fit in to your end of line operations
  • High level palletizers: Build multiple layers at high speeds with the lowest downtime
  • Robotic palletizers: Smart technology for highest output and productivity; highest reduction on labor costs and burdens; variety of options and applications

Click here to learn more about our palletizers.

At Hughes, it’s our top priority to help business of all shapes and sizes bring top of the line equipment and consumables to their supply chain. This also means having the most efficient approach to solving warehouse problems and implementing efficient equipment. Contact a Hughes packaging expert today to find out if you could be operating more efficiently.

What are you looking for?