To-Do List for 2009 - Pharmaceutical Technology

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To-Do List for 2009
Planning ahead will ensure successful efforts to improve packaging and packaging operations.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 32, Issue 10

In cooperation with schools and its network of stores and salons, Aveda has organized a program to collect polypropylene closures from water, carbonated soft drink, detergent, and shampoo bottles. The program is designed to reduce litter, pollution, and the chance that birds, seals, turtles, and other wildlife might ingest the closures. The collected parts will be used to make new caps such as the 100% recycled-content dispensing closure Aveda began using in September 2008 for its new "Limited Edition Vintage Clove" shampoo.

Supported by several brand owners, TerraCycle has organized a grassroots recycling network that collects empty drink pouches and cookie-package wrappers. TerraCycle cleans the material and uses it to make consumer products such as totes, pencil cases, umbrellas, and shower curtains.

Reusing distribution packaging is another sustainable strategy. Coldchain Technology Services (Spring Branch, TX), a provider of logistics and consulting services for temperaturesensitive shipments, discovered that reusable insulated shippers quickly pay for themselves. Recyclable components also enhance the packaging system's sustainability profile ("Greenbox" insulated shipper, Entropy Solutions, Minneapolis, MN, see "Containers Insulate Companies from Product Loss" in the March 2008 issue of Pharmaceutical Technology).

It is important for a sustainable package to identify itself. Consumers, retailers, distributors, wholesalers, pharmacists, and doctors want to know about the package and its environmental impact. Claims of sustainability should include supporting data. For example, a statement that a package is 20% lighter and reduces greenhouse- gas emissions by 16,000 tons per year is much more meaningful than a vague claim about an "improved," "more sustainable" or "new lightweight package."

Improvements to packages and the packaging line

Packaging and packaging-line improvements begin with identifying the source of the greatest waste, inefficiency, or expense and looking for a better alternative. The alternative could be a simple, inexpensive fix such as arranging just-in-time delivery of packaging components, or it might require capital investment.

Trade shows and conferences provide excellent opportunities to study design options and discover new ideas. Pharmaceutical packaging- related trade shows scheduled in 2009 include INTERPHEX (Mar. 17–19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York), the triennial NPE2009 (June 22–26 at McCormick Place in Chicago), and Pack Expo Las Vegas (Oct. 5–7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV).

The pharmaceutical-industry trade show INTERPHEX, which is colocated with the Pharma MedDevice show, features numerous exhibitors dedicated to pharmaceutical packaging. In addition, a conference program offers information about productivity improvement, automation, isolator technology, counterfeit prevention, and pedigree solutions.

An all-encompassing look at what's new in plastics will be presented at the NPE2009 International Plastics Showcase, organized by the Society of the Plastics Industry. With more than 2000 exhibits, it's a must-see event for anyone looking for innovations in plastic packaging, especially because it only occurs once every three years.

Pack Expo Las Vegas is held in oddnumbered years and alternates with Pack Expo International. Pack Expo Las Vegas is a machinery-oriented show and will be the year's best opportunity to see packaging equipment in action. Despite the dominance of machines, containers and materials are well represented in their own pavilion and at the colocated Converting and Package Printing Expo. A concurrent conference at Pack Expo gives attendees the opportunity to hear experts discuss a host of subjects organized according to tracks such as sustainability, upgrading operations, and brand protection.

In addition, several trade associations and educational organizations host conferences designed to help pharmaceutical packaging personnel improve pharmaceutical packages and packaging lines. These groups include the Institute of Validation Technology, the Parenteral Drug Association, Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council (HCPC), the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, BIOTAQ, Compliance Online, and SWE Enterprises.

Finally, a great deal of research can be done on the Internet. Google is always a good starting point or final double-check. However, packaging- or pharmaceutical-industry-oriented websites generally deliver searches with more targeted results. Packaging websites include those of events such as Pack Expo and publications such as Packaging World, Packaging Digest, and Packaging Machinery Technology. Informative pharmaceutical websites include those of Pharmaceutical Technology and Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging News.


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