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Molded fiber packaging delivers for Philips Consumer Lifestyle

The newspaper/water material provides benefits ranging from sustainability to branding to economics.

Hp 20272 Philips Sonicare2
When Philips Consumer Lifestyle, a business unit of Royal Philips Electronics, the global diversified health and well being company, chose molded fiber, its goal was to align the packaging with its EcoVison5 corporate sustainability target to "double global collection, recycling amounts and recycled materials in products by 2015 compared to 2009."

Philips Consumer Lifestyle previously packed large protective PET blisters inside retail cartons for Norelco shavers and Sonicare toothbrushes. The change to smaller PET blisters combined with protective molded fiber packaging has improved sustainability and branding and reduced costs.

"The molded fiber packaging is made from 100-percent recycled newsprint, so it's a more renewable, environmentally friendly material than petroleum-based plastics," says Jeff Wood, senior commodity manager for Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Packaging and Print.

"Switching from large to small PET blisters, along with custom protective molded fiber packaging from UFP Technologies has reduced our use of plastic packaging content by 75 percent and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in material costs," he adds. According to Wood, after-press operations provide a smooth, precise finish to the molded-fiber, improving the aesthetic and the "out of the box" experience of the consumer.

UFP's after-press capabilities allow for a smooth finish on two sides and the ability in manufacturing to closely hold a design's tolerance, enabling the creation of retail-friendly packaging options like folding cartons and clamshells with high aesthetic appeal that convey a sustainable cachet.

Using color to accentuate branding is possible, as was done when dark purple was added to molded fiber trays for the BlackBerry smart phone. Other packaging applications that have fueled growth have been after-pressed trays, clamshells, and inserts featuring not only color, but clearly embossed customer logos.

Molded fiber packaging is made from 100% recycled newspaper that's made into a slurry with water, then converted into custom packaging after it is vacuum-formed on screened molds. It is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, and sustainable. That reduces input and disposal costs compared to less recyclable, petroleum-based materials.

Molded fiber's benefits include resilience and blocking and bracing capabilities, economic costs, and little space to ship and store.

Although the demand for recycled packaging has been growing for years, molded fiber has traditionally been associated with items like box inserts, cup carrying trays, and egg carton packaging that had limited consumer appeal.

Recently, however, some packaging industry providers have added specialty equipment and techniques that have expanded the capabilities of traditional molded fiber packaging.

Award-winning packaging

Today molded fiber packaging is winning awards, and promoting the environmental concern and image of the manufacturers who use it. Recently, for instance, Grafcor Packaging, a Rockford-Ill.-based designer, developer, manufacturer, and distributor of packaging materials for the food, beverage, healthcare, and beauty markets, won an Ameristar in the Beverage category for a unique 12-bottle molded fiber wine shipper that passed UPS and FedEx tests.

"Molded fiber is completely sustainable, recyclable, and biodegradable," says Bill Hall, owner of Grafcor Packaging. "Because the molded fiber ships at about a 4-to-1 ratio by truckload compared to EPS, it can also save in transport and storage costs.

"In working with thin-walled custom molded fiber, getting the depth of the draw and the size of the part right was challenging, and we wouldn't have succeeded without engineering and production help from UFP Technologies," says Hall. "Their willingness to ramp up production in late October, in the midst of the busy holiday season, also helped us to meet strong demand in the marketplace."
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