Genpak Blog - The Latest On Foodservice Packaging & More

Recycling Polystyrene

October 17th, 2014

There is a belief by many out there that polystyrene and foamed polystyrene can’t be recycled.  Just because a local municipality chooses not to pick up products that carry a chasing arrows #6 “recycle logo”, certainly does not mean that material can’t be successfully recycled and turned into useful products that re-enter the world of commerce.  In fact there is a booming industry that employs many Americans to support this effort.  This video at 10 minutes is a little long, but well worth viewing.  It demonstrates the process from start to finish.

 

National Manufacturing Day

October 3rd, 2014

Today is National Manufacturing Day!  People ask me all the time who I work for and when I tell them it is Genpak, they usually say, what do they do?  My favorite thing to say is, although you likely have never heard of us, I can almost guarantee at one point in your life, you have used one of our products.  Whether it is the tray that held your pound of ground beef,  the container that housed your favorite take out meal or the packaging your local grocery store uses in their bakery department…there’s a good chance it was a Genpak product.  As a manufacturer ourselves, we support National Manufacturing Day!  It is companies like ours and countless others that have helped make America a great country.  Shake the hand of someone who works in the manufacturing industry today.  You’ll be glad you did!

Busting Polystyrene Myths

October 3rd, 2014

The American Chemistry Counsel has just published an excellent piece of literature that busts some of the crazy polystyrene myths that are floating around the internet.  These myths were developed by people and groups who have a specific agenda and are designed to frighten and intimidate people into their specific narrative.

Myth #1 – Foamed Polystyrene is not safe for food contact.  BUSTED – The US Food & Drug Administration has determined for over 50 years that polystyrene is safe for use in foodservice products.   In fact when asked to comment about the safety of foamed polystyrene products used for foodservice, the National Toxicology Program Director, Dr. Linda Birnbaum was quoted as saying  “…in finished products, certainly [poly]styrene is no an issue.”

Myth #2 – Foamed Polystyrene makes up a huge portion of litter.  BUSTED – According to a May 2012 national report by environmental consulting firm Environmental Resources Planning, foam foodservice items makes up 1.5% of all litter.  Having said this, we must state that ALL litter is bad!  In fact we’ve mentioned many times in the past within these blog pages that local governments should focus their efforts on busting litter bugs and educating people about litter instead of whipping out the “ban pen”.  It’s been proven in communities that have banned one type of material in favor of another, that it did nothing regarding litter except trade one type of litter for another.

Myth #3 – Foamed Polystyrene can’t be recycled.  BUSTED – 20% of Californians can now recycle polystyrene foam items in their local curbside programs.  There are other communities that have jumped on that bandwagon and we support and applaud those efforts!

Myth #4 – Styrene = Polystyrene.  BUSTED – Polystyrene and styrene are two different substances.  Yes, polystyrene is made from styrene, but equating the two would be like saying diamonds are the same exact thing as carbon.  After all, diamonds are made from carbon.  But anybody who has purchased a diamond knows they they cost a lot more than a lump of carbon.

For more truthful information regarding foamed polystyrene and other environmental related questions, please visit our Green Room.  We’ve done our best to provide as much spin free truths that are readily verifiable.

Garbage to Energy Technolgy

September 25th, 2014

How cool would it be to some day take your garbage and turn it into energy?  It looks like those possibilities are right around the corner.  I for one would love to take my non-recyclable materials and use them to fill up my home fuel oil tank.  Sounds kind of like Mr. Fusion is being realized!

mr-fusion

Foam Food Packaging Gets A Win

September 11th, 2014

Despite what this person writes in this article for the Huff & Puff Post, Congress has made the right choice.  What this author fails to mention is all the alternatives they would so gladly replace foam food packaging for, is made in China.  How typical of the stone throwers.  Ban or make illegal what you do not understand or that which does not fit into their agenda.  The facts are:

  • Foam food packaging has been used safely for over 45 years.
  • Foam food packaging is still the most economical choice of any material out there.
  • Alternatives or biodegradables disposed of in a landfill will not “go away” in our life time.
  • Alternatives or biodegradables littered into the environment will not magically go away.  In communities that have banned foam, studies done afterwords show the amount of litter had not decreased, but rather only the type of litter changed.

As I’ve said many times in this blog, if consumers want to switch away from foam, then so be it.  That’s how supply and demand works.  In fact we offer a whole host of alternative packaging options.  But let the consumer make that decision instead of forcing a change down their throats with legislation and fear mongering.

Clear Plastic Food Packaging

August 28th, 2014

Recently the Wall Street Journal posted a story on how see through packaging boosted retail sales of food items.   While this article mainly talked about flexible packaging like chip, snack and power bar films, we have seen the same trend in solid, plastic food packaging as well.  The demand for our Clear Hinged Deli containers has never been stronger.  Customers & consumers alike love the crystal clarity these containers offer PLUS the added protection and shelf life a rigid hinged container offers.   Another added benefit of these containers is they way they may be merchandised.  Here’s a great example of our delis in action at Holly Land Bakery & Deli in FreshToGoDeliMinneapolis, MN.  They do a wonderful job of displaying the product inside and also offer a surface area for the nutritional label.  In this instance the containers are being used for all sorts of confectionery delights. Our clear food packaging is not just for the bakery section though.  They are also used to package dried fruit, nuts, cheese, deli meats, candy as well as cut fruit and cut vegetables as seen here.  The broccoli and cauliflower really pop in a clear hinged container, don’t you think?

Another example of clear packaging making huge gains for real estate space on retail shelves is the explosion of hummus.  Walk down any grocery store in American today and you will find a very large section set aside for hummus.  Nearly all of the packaging used is a clear, round two piece container, we refer to as our Supermarket Containers.  Produced from the same material as our clear hinge deli, these containers are all #1 curb side recyclable and are also produced with 30% post consumer recycled content.  So not only do they perform wonderfully
on the retail shelf displaying and protecting the food products within, they also have a very nice environmental message to tell as well.  It’s a win win no matter how you slice it!  Here we see that familiar red lid of the Sabra Hummus packaging.  Delicious hummus in a very nice package that allows consumers a view of their favorite garnish option.  I’m a roasted red pepper guy.  What’s your favorite?

 

Food Operators Fight Back

June 26th, 2014

Cheers to Harris Sukita owner of Simply Ono lunch wagon and Jennifer Hino who sells specialty desserts in Hawaii, for standing up to big brother government out there.  It seems that City Councilman Stanley Chang is trying to strong arm them into using one type of food packaging over another.  Mr. Ono and Ms Hino both call out valid reasons why this “law” would hurt their businesses by means of lost profit and poor product presentation.  Mr. Ono stated it best when he said, “When government starts telling me that I have to start giving up some of my profit to put into somebody else’s pocket, that’s when it becomes an issue”.  Well said sir!

This is yet another prime example of a grossly misinformed politician who is trying to score cheap points by targeting small business owners.  Councilman Chang points out that foam food packaging will not breakdown in our lifetime.  Perhaps Mr. Chang should do his homework on modern day landfills.  They are designed so nothing breaks down…not even organic materials.  Also, as the opponents to this bully in the hallway bill point out, most foam food packaging is turned into electricity at HPOWER along with other refuse.  Mr. Chang also claims that foam food packaging contains an substance that may cause cancer.  This again is a typical scare tactic used to frighted and intimidate people.  Foam food packaging has been used safely, with zero incidence of cancer for over 40 years.   What more proof does he want?  It’s like saying I won’t drink water because it contains two hydrogen molecules and I’m worried I will explode if I drink it.  It’s absurd as is his bill.

Again, I’m not against compostable food packaging.  Far from it.  At Genpak we sell our Harvest Fiber & Harvest Paper products by the truckload.  What I’m against is the government telling us what we can and can’t use to serve food in.  This should be decided by the food operators and their customers.  If the desire is to move from one type to another, fantastic.  I’m on board.  But when big government moves in like Mr. Chang is doing, and starts strong arming its citizens, that’s when it becomes a problem.  Keep up the fight Mr. Sukita and Ms. Hino!

 

New Food Packaging from Genpak

June 23rd, 2014

The commissioner of the US Patent office, who in 1899 famously (or infamously) utter the comment that “everything that can be invented has been invented” never met our design team!  Introducing our newest hinged take out container…the 203CO, close-off, large hinged container.  What’s really cool about this container is that it can save you money!  If you are a foodservice operator and regularly use those solid plastic portion cups for your sides, like Coleslaw and baked beans or for condiments like salsa, you will absolutely love this new package.  The reason is… you no longer need those containers.  Think of the potential savings to be had!

Let’s say for example you use 500 cases of our large hinged 20010 per year for your take-out program.  In those containers you also regularly include two plastic side cups and lids.  Those cups & lids probably cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 cents per set (1 cup, 1 lid).  Some may pay a little more and others a little less, but that’s a good ballpark.  So you’ve got an extra 6 cents in packaging going out with your large hinged container for a total yearly spend of around $10,000 just in those side cups.  Here’s the part you will love.  Forget the side cups.  You simply do not need them with this package!  The 203CO is a compartmentalized container where the lid seals off the compartments of the base.  And NO, IT WILL NOT LEAK!  Check this video out as proof that the package does what we claim it will…

How cool is that?  Note that none of the side items migrated into any of the other compartments.  Now, this container is a bit more expensive than our standard 20010, but I can guarantee it’s not $20.00 more (that 10 cents x 200 pieces per case)!  You will save money, your customers will love the fact they don’t have more to throw away and, your side items will stay at their desired temperature longer.  It’s a win, win, win.  Listen, don’t take my word for it, order up a few free samples and test it for yourself.  My guess is this will become your new take-out container of choice.

 

Food Packaging Decisions

June 16th, 2014

I can’t tell you how many times I get calls from food service operators, confectioners and food processors looking for custom food packaging to fit their new creation or menu option. Now that by itself sounds great, and it is. The problem arises when the packaging to transport these culinary works of art are at the bottom of their to do list when it should really be the second item on the list.

The reason for this is the cost to make custom shapes and sizes can be a significant dollar amount. Without getting too technical, I can tell you it can get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A capital outlay of this magnitude is often something people just weren’t thinking about. Especially when they were probably thinking the packaging would be around 2%, maybe 3% of their overall cost. Now a whole new set of costs need to be justified for the operators. Often times on a brand new menu or food item, the “for sure” sales volume is not there to support such an expense. Sure we do get those calls from the larger, national food processors or foodservice operators who can handle this sort of thing with the power of their particular brand to support custom food packaging, but for the small and mid-sized companies, an extra $100,000 would kill the whole deal. They’d now be faced with going out and finding a smaller, custom forming company who might be able to make what they need without the large tooling costs, but their final part price will be 30% or more than what they were hoping which is no bargain either.

There is hope! Just move the packaging part of your new food product equation up to the number two spot.  A early on call to your friendly food packaging specialist could save thousands later down the road. We can work with you to design a packaging solution utilizing our massive inventory of existing footprints. 90% of the time we already have a design that will work perfectly. But for that other 10%, sometimes just a minor tweak to the food item or perhaps a simple count change (6 muffins instead of 9) is all it takes to design that perfect package. Perfect both economically and functionally. However if that packaging call is the last on the list and all other aspects are set in stone, it can sometimes be an up hill climb to find an economical solution.

So for all you food processors and foodservice operators out there who like to create new tasty items for us to eat, do me and you both a favor and bump your food packaging decision a few notches up the to do list.  I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!

 

Compostable Food Packaging from Genpak

April 29th, 2014

The need for “greener” food packaging is increasing and will continue to increase according to many reports published recently, by market research firms.  Whether it’s called biodegradable packaging or compostable packaging, the reports indicate a growth rate of 18% annually over the next 5 years, with the fastest growth opportunity in the food and beverage sectors.  Many factors are sited for this growth, but the two most prominent reasons are consumer awareness, which is great, along with governmental legislation, which is not so great.  If you are a regular reader here, you’ll understand I’m not in favor of local governments deciding which packaging can and can’t be used.  I won’t get into that rant here, but if you are interested you can always sift through previous posts on that subject.

For now though, I think it would be a good idea to review the options we have available for compostable food packaging starting with our Harvest Fiber products whose features include:Harvest Fiber Biodegradable Packaging

  • 100% compostable – BPI certified.  Only accept 3rd party verification for compostability claims!
  • 100% all natural material
  • Microwave safe
  • Non-absorbent
  • Genpak engineered designs including Snap-It closures and stacking features on hinged containers

I think that last bullet point is what really separates Genpak from the rest of the field.  Our customers have come to expect a higher level of quality in both material and design.  It did not seem right to introduce compostable packaging that did not have the same great features as our traditional packaging.  That why, when you utilize our Harvest Fiber hinged containers, you’ll enjoy the same great features such as our Snap It closures and stacking rims.  Our finished product is also superior in strength and moisture resistance which is important.  Consumers do not want to eat out of a package that feels like a wet sponge which is what you can get with inferior products.

Our Harvest Fiber offering is 9 items deep on hinged containers (and growing – stay tuned) from the HF225 medium sandwich container to our popular HF203 large hinged dinner container.  The plates, bowls and platters make up 12 items within the line.  Now, if you really want to set yourself apart, be sure to use our square Harvest Fiber dinnerware offerings.  They include the HFSQ20 – 20 oz bowl, HFSQ10 – 10″ plate and HFSQ11 – 11″ platter.   Each of these great items has a clear, over-cap lid available which, while not compostable, are made of 30% post consumer recycled material and are also curb side recyclable!  Lastly, rounding out the line is our HF105, 5 compartment school tray.

As you can see, we have all our most popular configurations available for our customers to choose from.  We’ve also taken the time to do it right with 3rd party certifications and our own Genpak designs.  But we did not stop there.  We recently expanded our compostable offering to include our entire line of paper cone, portion and pleated water cups which we call Harvest Paper.  As with our Harvest Fiber items, these paper products are also 100%, 3rd party certified compostable.  We have 6 cone cup configurations to choose from, 12 portion cups and 4 pleated cold drink cups.

Since Genpak was the first to offer a full line of compostable products back six years ago, we thought it important to have the fullest and highest quality line available for our customers.  If you are new to Genpak products or compostable packaging in general, we suggest you try it before you buy it.  I urge you to order up a FREE sample kit of our Harvest products and test them for yourself.  Our hope is that you will join our family of satisfied customers and allow us to become Your Food Packaging Company! 

 

green tea