2022 winners highlight innovation and sustainability in recycled and virgin fibre-based packaging
The judges of the 2022 European Carton Excellence Awards have revealed the winners of the 2022 competition. Rutgers Printing & Packaging Solutions ‘masterpiece of elementary and sustainable design’ for cherry tomatoes was crowned the Carton of the Year during the annual European Carton Makers Association (ECMA) Congress in Kraków, Poland.
Made entirely from food-safe renewable virgin fibre cartonboard manufactured by Stora Enso, the folding box strikes the perfect balance between maximising product visibility while maintaining rigidity. With a smooth white surface and unbleached inside, it conveys absolute eco-friendliness, and it is easily re-closable with a ‘click’ even after multiple uses, reassuring consumers that it is locked. Thanks to its shape, more boxes can be placed on a pallet than traditional plastic designs, saving costs, increasing transportation efficiency and reducing emissions. Crucially, approximately 67 tonnes of plastic are avoided by using cartonboard for 1 million boxes. After use, the boxes can be completely flattened and disposed of in the carton recycling stream.
The judges – including consultant for branding and design, Satkar Gidda, leading packaging designer Susanne Lippitsch and Global Packaging Director for Unilever, Sanjeev Das – were keen to praise the simplicity of the design, which can be opened with one hand. They also appreciated the presentation of the pack – remarking that it looks great on the table, on the shelf and in the refrigerator – as well as the design of the airflow with the cherry tomato-style punched in holes. Together, all these elements – combined with the fact that it is a single-piece construction – resulted in it being selected as the Carton of the Year.
In addition to the Carton of the Year, winners were also selected across a number of other categories including Sustainability, Innovation, General Packaging – Virgin Fibre, General Packaging – Recycled Fibre, Food & Drink Packaging – Virgin Fibre and Food & Drink Packaging – Recycled Fibre. Platinum and Gold awards were also given to designs that the judges deemed particularly outstanding and deserved special recognition.
Van Genechten Packaging’s flexible solution for Herbal Essences’ Shampoo Conditioner bundle, created using cartonboard from Metsä Board, scooped the top award in the Sustainability category thanks to its simple, effective design which uses minimal cartonboard while perfectly holding the products together. In addition to its sustainability credentials, the sleeve also creates a new communication platform, allows cross-selling of different products, and has proven to be an excellent sales accelerator. The cut-out windows also allow the consumer to view the scent or flavour of the product inside as well as enabling them to easily read the ingredients list.
The judges praised the design, commenting on its simple yet effective on-shelf appeal and ability to heighten brand communication. “The presentation is fantastic and the consumer knew exactly how it should be used as the brand and content message are very quickly conveyed”, they commented.
Incredible Innovation Board Supplier West Rock
“Minimalistic yet premium” sums up the winning pack design from WestRock for Nestlé’s Sanpellegrino® Aranciata Rossa in the Innovation category. Carton converter and manufacturer WestRock created the Cluster-Pak carrier with barcode masking at the top and can-locker at the bottom, allowing for clean 360° product visibility and billboarding while still using as little material as possible. As Sanpellegrino is exported globally to markets where barcodes need to be covered at the point of sale, it required a folded panel at the top to avoid a single unit scan when buying a multipack. By using a mechanical lock, it is also glue-free and easy to recycle. According to the judges “it’s the locking system of this carton construction that is so amazing as it locks without glue and is fundamentally very stable and functional.”
General Packaging – Virgin Fibre
Faller Packaging took home the General Packaging – Virgin Fibre award for its PleioFlow RF Device carrier using cartonboard from Holmen Iggesund. Designed to keep this complex medical device – with all its wires, tubes and instruments – in a stable position, guarantee its safety and protect the micro-biological barrier, the functionality of this carrier is its most important attribute. The unprinted card allows the SterinClin pouches to be visually inspected for any particle residues in the pouches themselves as well as in the cracks and any other damage that may occur. It is also easy for surgeons to open and unmount the product from the carrier within the sterile surrounding of the operating theatre – “a masterpiece of plastic replacement and a simple example of cartonboard for the medical industry” according to the judges.
General Packaging – Recycled Fibre
Lucaprint’s Fanton Power strip Relife won the General Packaging – Recycled Fibre category for its new eco-sustainable line of ‘Made in Italy’ multi-sockets, created with RDM’s certified recycled cartonboard material. The packaging, which replaces classic plastic wrapping with recycled cartonboard, is equipped with a tamper-evident system and the case is optimised for the industrial process. A completely mono-material case concept, it does not have a lining or coating, highlighting the sustainability credentials of the contents. Overall, the packaging protects the product and makes it visible to the consumer, providing excellent on-shelf presentation and branding. The judges described it as “a wonderful piece of cartonboard engineering which fixes the product inside.”
Food & Drink Packaging – Virgin Fibre
Autajon Durero Packaging’s design for Match Tonic bottles was crowned Food & Drink Packaging – Virgin Fibre winner thanks to the innovative design of its e-commerce pack specifically conceived to house four units of the company’s square recycled glass bottles. The package uses Stora Enso cartonboard. Matching the aesthetics of the bottle – square with round corners in the shape of a basket – the multi-pack unit design features folding handles that mean it is easy to carry and space-efficient for transportation. Multiple layers can also be stacked on pallets without the need for additional protective sheets. The structure is user-friendly and ergonomic while the graphics are simple and clean resulting in a visually striking end design. According to the judges, the pack is very clever thanks to its “optimal use of material – not too much, not too little. It perfectly wraps around the shape of the bottles and has an attractive, minimalistic graphic design.”
Food & Drink Packaging – Recycled Fibre
MM Packaging’s potato pack – winner of the Food & Drink Packaging – Recycled Fibre award – is, according to the judges, “a fantastic piece of work that can be opened and closed very easily with comfortable carrying ergonomics.” The cartonboard is manufactured by MM Board & Paper, and is entirely plastic-free, the box features a convenient carrying handle and solid crash lock bottom. A clear cellulose window film – which is food grade, biodegradable and OK compost HOME certified – means the freshness of the potatoes can be inspected by consumers before purchase, while the smooth, easily printable surface provides ample space for graphics, recipe solutions and large barcodes. The shape of the pack is interesting for a retail environment, providing excellent on-shelf stand-out and brand communication opportunities.
Winfried Muehling, General Manager of Pro Carton commented: “We were truly excited and proud by the quality of the entries for the European Carton Excellence Awards this year. The designs are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and diverse, with a greater focus on consumer handling and material usage. Over the years, the environmental value of cartons and cartonboard has become more significant. The 2022 entries clearly document the lead cartonboard and folding boxes take on the road to circularity. True symbols of change.
We extend our congratulations to all the winners of the European Carton Excellence Awards and thank all those who entered. We look forward to hearing even more about their successes in the year to come and invite all companies to enter again next year.”
About Pro Carton
Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium. www.procarton.com