How an artisan meats company improved their productivity and branding with die-cut rollstock

Meet Elevation Artisan Meats

We recently sat down with Chad Nelan, Owner of Elevation Artisan Meats (Elevation Meats or Elevation Charcuterie). Chad started out his career as a butcher and used that experience to open Elevation Meats, specializing in charcuterie and salami.

elevation charcuterie packaging

 

Based out of Denver, CO, the company prides itself on sourcing the highest quality ingredients and staying ahead of best practices. Elevation continues to champion the “old” artisan way of creating their products while adhering to the stringent rules of the USDA.

The problem with hand-wrapped packaging

Elevation Meats started out by packaging their meat products by hand rolling them in paper and applying a label. This process would take roughly four minutes per package.

salami packaging by hand

 

The company had a staff of ~50-60 people hand-rolling salamis at one time to help speed up the process. Nelan mentioned it looked like the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie scene where hundreds of people are seen ripping open candy bars to find the golden ticket. The process wasn’t efficient as it took time and required a lot of workers.

Another issue of having hand-rolled packaging for artisan meats was not having the option for a window. Consumers couldn’t see the product inside the packaging.

How die-cut rollstock improved productivity and branding

Looking for a more efficient way to package their meats, Chad met with C-P Flexible Packaging. He learned about our patented laser die-cut window rollstock technology

(DCRS) and how it could transform his production efficiency and add a window to his packaging. Chad worked with his copacker to utilize a flow-wrapping machine that worked seamlessly with our DCRS material.

flow wrap packaging

After the switch, Elevation Meats saw a significant increase in productivity. With only a couple people operating the machinery, they can produce packaging 8x faster than before. This efficiency change has cut their packaging costs in half.

Before (hand-wrapped)

  • 60 workers needed to produce packaging
  • 4 packages/minute
  • Packaging costs: $0.29/unit
  • Extra label needed
  • No window

After (flow wrap – DCRS)

  • 2 workers needed to produce packaging
  • 32 packages/minute
  • Packaging costs: $0.14/unit
  • Clean, professional look and feel
  • Features a window to show product

 

Chad admitted he was a bit nervous about consumer reactions to the new packaging. Initial feedback has been positive; his customers love the updated look. The DCRS packaging looks clean and professional, shows the product through a circular die-cut window, and displays great on store shelves.

Watch the full interview

Check out our interview with Chad in The Switch from Hand-wrapped Packaging to Die-cut Window Rollstock for Artisan Meats:

 

 

Sustainable Wipes Packaging 101

eco-friendly baby wipes packaging

Regulations and public concerns are two powerful trends driving sustainable packaging. Consumers are increasingly aware that most plastic packaging eventually ends up in a landfill, and recent data shows that consumers prefer sustainable packaging even if it comes at a higher price:

  • An Ipsos survey noted that 92% of respondents said recycling was now more or equally as important than before the pandemic for handling the increase in plastics and packaging.1
  • 60% to 70% of consumers say they would pay more for sustainable packaging.2
  • Consumers indicate they would be willing to pay on average 26% more – and up to 44% more – for sustainable products.3

Most wipes packaging today is not sustainable packaging. But we can help you change that.

Which sustainable solution is right for your wipes packaging?

  • Recyclable packaging
  • Compostable packaging
  • Packaging made from renewable resources
  • Packaging made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials

Recyclable wipes packaging

In order for wipes flexible packaging to be recyclable, it needs to have single-source material construction. Essentially, all layers of the package have to be made from the same material.

An example of this is recyclable wipes packages made from multiple layers of polyethylene (PE).

Recyclable wipes packages can be recycled at over 18,000 store drop-off locations in the U.S., and over 60% of consumers have access to collection systems that accept recyclable wipes packaging.

As a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), we use their How2Recycle system for certifying various recyclable packages. If you’d like to display a How2Recycle logo on your product, which provides a visual informing consumers exactly how to recycle your package, we can assist in this process.

Compostable wipes packaging

compostable-packaging-for-wipes

Compostable packaging breaks down into non-toxic components that can be cycled back into the soil without polluting the environment. There are several types of bioplastics used for compostable packaging:

PLA: Poly (lactic acid)

  • Only compostable in industrial compost facilities; not suitable for at-home composting
  • Derived from starch

PHA:  Polyhydroxyalkanoates

  • Broad family of bioplastics naturally produced by microorganisms
  • Produced and stored by microorganisms as an energy source
    (similar to fat in humans)
  • At-home compostable and marine biodegradable

PBAT:  Polybutylene adipate terephthalate

  • Derived from fossil fuels rather than biobased
  • Typically compounded with other materials such as PLA or starch to improve functional properties

PBS:  Polybutylene succinate

  • A biodegradable aliphatic polyester with properties that are comparable to polypropylene

We work with the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) to have our compostable packaging solutions tested and certified. BPI-certified compostable packaging meets specifications for ASTM D6400 or ASTM 6868, which are globally recognized biodegradation test standards.

BPI ensures that certified products mixed with food scraps and yard trimmings will break down during the regular composting process within 90 to 180 days of disposal.

Our wide variety of compostable materials and structures provide a range of properties for barrier, performance, clarity, and appearance (such as natural, metallized, clear, foggy, white, etc.) depending on shelf life and packaging equipment requirements.

Wipes packaging made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials

plastic bottles used for wipes packaging
Post-consumer recycled resins for wipes packaging can be sourced from plastic items such as PET water bottles

PCR packaging is manufactured using packaging films made from previously recycled materials. To create these packaging films, plastic waste collected from recycling centers is sorted, sterilized, and repurposed into new packaging options including PCR.

Key benefits of PCR packaging:

  • Matches the quality of non-recycled flexible packaging, offering the same level of protection, barrier performance, and strength as nonrecycled plastic films
  • Allows brands to fulfill sustainability goals without relying on the consumer to recycle or compost package after use.

Wipes packaging made from renewable resources

Falling into this category is any packaging made from resources that can be replenished naturally over the course of time. Examples of these materials are:

  • Polylactic Acid (PLA)
    • Bioplastic derived from fermented plant starch (corn, cassava, sugarcane or sugar beet pulp)
  • Plant-based PE resins
    • Made using sugarcane or potato starches
  • Paper structures

Offering the most cost-effective and efficient solutions for sustainable wipes packaging

Wipe manufacturers can now choose sustainable packing options without risking disruption to their bottom line or their supply chain. C-P Flexible Packaging combines sustainable packaging options with peel and reseal innovation.

  • Our high-barrier packaging films meet the sustainability needs of your business while protecting product integrity and extending shelf life
  • You’ll have less scrap waste, with no reduction in production speed
  • Our unique winding process and over six decades of experience allows our peel and reseal wipes packaging material to run and unwind just like regular flexible packaging rollstock, without the usual machine adjustments or waste

Get to Know C-P Flexible Packaging

C-P Flexible Packaging is a fully integrated, full-service flexible packaging converter. With all capabilities in-house, we have full control over our quality—which yields consistently reliable packaging, with less waste on your filling lines. We even have our own in-house recycling facility.

Reach out to learn how we can help you make the switch to sustainable packaging hassle-free. We can help you go from concept to sustainable prototype in just days, not weeks.

 

Sources: 1. Flexible Packaging Association, “A Flexible Packaging Path to a Circular Economy” Report – https://www.flexpack.org/publication/RG93bmxvYWQ6NDU4 2. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/paper-forest-products-and-packaging/our-insights/sustainability-in-packaging-inside-the-minds-of-us-consumers 3. https://recyclingpartnership.org/americas-prefer-sustainable-companies/

Recyclable stand-up pouches: Mapping out your brand’s path to commercialization

2025 is fast approaching, and so are the sustainable packaging goals for major retailers like Walmart and Target. And while many CPG brands have already begun the gradual, SKU-by-SKU transition to recyclable, compostable, or responsibly sourced packaging, many haven’t.

With some sustainable packaging development projects taking north of 12 months, now is the time to turn your brand’s sustainability goals into action if you haven’t already. While many projects can be completed much faster, the sooner you get started, the better.

But where to begin?

Well, we typically recommend starting with an honest conversation about your brand’s goals:

  • Do you have an internal sustainability plan that you’ve communicated to investors? What sustainability benefit (recyclability, compostability, responsible sourcing) does it emphasize?
  • What sustainability benefit best fits in with how consumers use your product? What does your target demographic expect from a “sustainable” package?
  • What story do you want to tell about your brand’s commitment to preserving our planet?

If your brand has yet to have this conversation, an experienced flexible packaging converter can walk you through it. Carry your half of that discussion by asking them these hard-hitting sustainable packaging questions.

This article will map out your path to sustainable packaging commercialization if you’ve:

  • Already discussed and defined your brand’s goals
  • Chosen to transition one of your products to a recyclable pouch

Let’s dive in.

Your choice is clear: Mono-material PE pouches

recyclable pouch

If you’re transitioning a product to recyclable flexible packaging, your choice is clear:

Mono-material polyethylene (PE) pouches or bags.

PE is really the only flexible packaging material type that is compatible with Store Drop-Off recycling programs and is ready to be produced and distributed at scale.

There are thousands of permutations of all-PE packaging films

Just because there’s one material type doesn’t mean you’re limited in terms of performance attributes. By manipulating the gauge, orientation, additive mix, and coatings, you can achieve almost any performance attribute possible with multi-material film laminations.

Gauge — You can increase the barrier and puncture resistance of your all-PE pouch by increasing the gauge, or thickness, of the film. You can also laminate (extrusion or solventless adhesive) several PE films together without impacting the recyclability of your package.

Coating — You can add a metalized coating to your package to enhance the barrier and appearance of your pouch.

Orientation — Orienting PE film, or stretching it in multiple directions, improves its heat resistance, stiffness and clarity.

Film orientors are expensive pieces of equipment, and it used to be that only overseas film suppliers had invested in them. In the last 18 months, our stateside suppliers have made the investment, leading to greater product development innovation geared at recyclability in North America.

PE film technology is improving at an ever-increasing rate and will only improve with time.

Add recloseable features to your recyclable stand-up pouch

Apart from laser scoring, there really aren’t any functional features that you can’t incorporate in your all-PE pouch or rollstock: Windows, zippers, sliders, spouts, peel-and-reseal labels.

And innovations seem to roll in every year.

Last year, we were working with our zipper supplier to modify the chemical makeup of their zippers, so they crush (or apply) with reduced heat and pressure. Because PE isn’t as heat resistant as non-recyclable films like polyester, it runs the risk of deforming when applying the heat necessary to crush the zipper.

Now PE-compatible zippers are a commercial reality, and we played a key role in making that happen. We’re continually working with key suppliers to identify areas for performance improvement surrounding our sustainable packaging products.

Anything is possible. But the limiting factor is your (or your co-packer’s) filling lines.

trees

There is one challenge to all-PE packaging films, and it’s that it lacks the heat resistance of other materials. And, because heat is required to seal and form your pouches, this has very real consequences.

Other packaging materials have a wider operating window in terms of heat and dwell time. They can be run very fast, with relatively wide variability in the amount of heat applied — meaning it can be run successfully on any number of filling lines. This is especially important for large CPGs with a diverse mix of plants and co-packer partners where they form their packaging. They need films that can be run on almost any form/fill/seal lines without issue.

All-PE packaging films, on the other hand, have a very tight operating window. They need just the right amount of heat, and just the right amount of dwell time. Excess heat will deform the package or negatively impact its stiffness.

The moral of the story: You can achieve any aesthetic or functional vision with a recyclable pouch. The only limiting factor is your filling line.

We’ll need to work in tandem with you (or your co-packer) to determine whether equipment adjustments can help you overcome heat-related challenges, and what the optimal equipment settings are.

Comparing commercialization for recyclable pouches vs. bags

There are two formats in which we can deliver all-PE flexible packaging: Fully formed pouches or rollstock.

The difference lies in who makes the finished package:

  • Pouches — We form the pouches for you on our equipment, and the finished packages are delivered to your facility. All that’s left is filling them with your product.
  • Rollstock — You or your co-packer will run the rolls of packaging material on your equipment to form, fill, and seal the finished bags.

Pouches are plug-and-play

We have dialed in all equipment settings (heat, dwell time, throughput speed) necessary to form all-PE pouches. When your finished pouches arrive at your facility, they’ve been custom-engineered to meet your performance and aesthetic expectations.

Rollstock requires more upfront testing

You want a commercially viable packaging product that can be produced at scale and without issue. This takes more work to achieve when run on your equipment — especially for CPGs with dozens of plants and several co-packers as in-line testing is required to ensure success.

The more lines that your packaging must run on, the more upfront work will be required to prevent packaging-line problems.

The important role of technical support on your filling lines

If you’re looking to source all-PE rollstock, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of commercialization is your packaging line (or lines, in the case of many CPGs).

We help CPGs and co-packers overcome challenges by providing technical support in the field before, during, and after their sustainable packaging development projects.

Our field tech engineers will visit your facility:

  • At the outset of the project — To observe how your lines are running today. If we understand the current operating conditions, we can design a package with the performance attributes required to run better on your packaging line.
  • To monitor tests — Once we engineer a recyclable package for you, we’ll send a field tech engineer to observe initial tests. This allows us to give accurate, in-depth feedback on the test, and make real-time packaging line adjustments to ensure the rollstock runs smoothly on your packaging line.
  • As quality issues occur — Long after your first order, our field tech engineers remain on standby to fix any quality issues as they occur. To see what the troubleshooting process looks like, check out this article.

We won’t send a field tech engineer if a CPG declines our offer. Otherwise, we aim to provide the support free of charge.

After all, we take single-source responsibility for the success of your packaging initiative. And by providing technical support, we can stack the cards in your favor.

family recycling

Making the distinction between “recyclable” and “recycle-ready”

There are many underlying motivations to transition to recyclable packaging: Being good stewards of the environment, meeting sustainability deadlines for key retailers, delivering on promises to investors.

And, of course, making a marketing claim about the recyclability of your package is another leading motivation.

Whether on your package or in an advertisement, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has very specific rules about when you can — and can’t — make claims of packaging recyclability, as well as how you should phrase those claims. These rules are concisely detailed in the FTC Green Guides, which you can read here.

The most important rule of thumb?

You can’t make broad claims of recyclability about your package unless a “substantial majority” — defined as 60% — of consumers in your geographic footprint can easily access facilities that will recycle your product. It’s not just about the ability to recycle your product, it’s also about access to recycling infrastructure.

This is why the distinction between “recyclable” and “recycle-ready” is so important.

All our packaging is “recycle-ready;” our packaging is carefully engineered to be recycled through the Store Drop-Off program. Whether or not you can claim that your package is “recyclable” ultimately comes down to the prevalence of recycling infrastructure where you sell your product.

To qualify for an on-package Store Drop-Off label, your brand will need to join How2Recycle and submit your pouch or bag for a recyclability assessment. We’ll assist you through this process in whatever way you need.

Choose a SKU and get started

2025 is coming whether your brand is prepared or not. And while it can be a long, uphill climb to commercialize recyclable packaging (or compostable or responsibly sourced, for that matter), taking the first step will ensure you’re ready when retailers stop accepting non-sustainable packages.

Start small. Maybe just one SKU. Proving it’s possible to run sustainable packaging for your products, in your plant, is the hard part — from there, it’ll be a lot easier to make the leap for the rest of your product families.

Ready to make the switch?

It won’t be easy, which means it’s all the more important to choose the right packaging partner. Reach out to our team today to have an open, honest conversation about whether we’re a fit for your next sustainable packaging project.

How to redesign your flexible packaging for sustainability and enhanced shelf appeal

Brands don’t update their packaging without a reason — often it’s to drive sales, grow market share, create renewed interest or provide your consumers with convenient functionality.

In this article, we’ll show you how to work with your flexible packaging converter to achieve your goal, whether it’s tied to shelf appeal or sustainability.

Enhancing your packaging’s shelf appeal

There are so many ways to revamp your packaging—from using unique printing effects in your graphics to making the leap to an entirely different package format. Your packaging supplier needs to help you narrow down the world of possibilities into what makes sense for your brand, your consumers, and your budget.

Your supplier should have a wealth of experience in your market and know what has and hasn’t worked for brands like yours. Factoring in experience, consumer insights, your design preferences, your brand image, your goals, knowledge of how your consumers interact with your products, etc., your supplier should be able to present you with a selection of customized digital or physical packaging prototypes to explore.

Questions to ask potential flexible packaging suppliers

  • What innovative packaging formats would work well for my product and how consumers interact with it?
  • What packaging solutions have you seen work well for brands of my size in my market?
  • Can you provide digital prototypes customized with my graphics? And can you provide realistic physical prototypes?
  • What new packaging ideas can you present that will fit within my budget?

Creating a more sustainable package

Brands that want to move toward more sustainable packaging need to first look at how they define “sustainability” within their corporate culture:

What are your brand’s goals? What do your consumers expect from you? Have you communicated a specific plan to investors?

Doing a quick internal audit will provide clearer direction as you approach your sustainable packaging objectives. This is important because “sustainable packaging” is actually quite a broad term, and you have a wide range of sustainable flexible packaging options to choose from. Examples include:

  • Materials utilizing up to 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content
  • Single-source packages that can be recycled at over 18,000 store drop-off locations across the U.S.
  • Packages designed for industrial composting
  • Downgauged and lightweight packages to reduce raw material consumptions
  • Packaging materials derived from bio-based feedstock that naturally replenishes over time

But you shouldn’t just look for a flexible packaging supplier with a wide array of sustainable packaging products. Look for one that will stop at nothing to help you achieve your brand’s unique goals.

If, for example, you want to switch out of plastic packaging entirely and move into paper packaging structures, your supplier should do the research necessary to present you with a commercially viable solution.

This includes comprehensive research of potential raw materials and how they will interact with your product formulations. Your supplier should also walk you through how the solutions they present will impact your packaging lines (e.g., capital equipment expenditures) and pack performance (e.g., shelf life). And, ultimately, they should stand behind the performance of your sustainable packaging solution, troubleshooting any packaging line issues as they arise.

Questions to ask potential flexible packaging suppliers:

  • What sustainable flexible packaging products do you offer?
  • Based on my brand’s sustainability goals, what sustainable packaging solutions would you recommend and why?
  • If we require a solution that’s not currently in your packaging portfolio, how will you help us develop a commercial-ready package?
  • In what ways will you support my brand as we roll out this new packaging?

Let’s work together on your package redesign

When a brand comes to us with a packaging goal, we’re all in with support: material research and development, format design, prototyping, on-line trials, etc. And we’re always looking for the next customer partnership.

If you’d like us in your corner throughout the redesign process, reach out to our team to start a conversation today.

How to cut flexible packaging costs and eliminate delivery issues

It’s simple. You need your packaging when you need it—not a day late, and not a month early—all at an optimized, fair market price. It’s critical that you maintain service to your customers, avoiding empty shelves, lost revenues, or damaged credibility. And, this should all be accomplished without carrying excessive inventories of packaging film.

Here, we’ll explore how you can identify a flexible packaging converter that can help you on both counts: Cutting costs and meeting deadlines.

Eliminate flexible packaging supply and delivery issues

 

Addressing supply chain & delivery issues at their source

It’s the role of your packaging supplier to mold their production and delivery timelines around your schedule. Suppliers have several tools they can use to do this, the most important being clear and transparent communication.

Using past data to forecast future demand, they should be able to work with you to design a data-driven supply chain program that eliminates late deliveries. Examples might be:

  • A raw material stocking program to shorten finished goods lead times.
  • The ability to establish and maintain a min/max program of finished goods or a vendor-managed inventory program on key items.
  • A warehousing program for finished goods inventory, providing immediate material availability at predefined levels and a predefined warehouse location.

First, your packaging supplier will ask you to share your forecasted demand for each SKU, including expected seasonal spikes. Do you historically have seasonality to your business? Do you have scheduled promotions that could spike demands?

If, as a simplified example, your packaging supplier knows you sell 50,000 units of a particular SKU each month—except for during the summer, when you sell 100,000 units per month—they can work backwards to build a program that ensures you always have the packaging you need, when you need it.

The best flexible packaging converters will set up an agreement with their raw materials suppliers to make sure there are always enough raw materials to manufacture your packaging. And they’ll book capacity on their machines well in advance of your deadlines so all your packaging is converted and delivered on time.

Examples of tools that a packaging supplier may use to ensure a robust supply chain include:

  • Raw material stocking programs – Working with you to understand overall demand (peak/non-peak), the packaging supplier agrees to carry defined raw materials to shorten your packaging lead times.
  • Min/max stocking programs – The supplier agrees to establish inventory levels of specific SKUs at defined minimum and maximum levels, resulting in constant on-hand packaging inventory.
  • Vendor managed inventory (VMI) programs – You provide a rolling forecast for specific SKUs and the supplier manages production of finished goods against the forecast, resulting in a constant stream of on-hand packaging inventory.
  • Make and ship programs – This program is more “transactional” and is essentially supplying packaging material against stated lead times.

Questions to ask potential flexible packaging suppliers:

  • Do you offer real-time status reports on packaging orders? What type of interim communication do you provide from when an order is placed until it arrives at my facility?
  • How many internal and external warehouse facilities do you have? Where are they?
  • What arrangements do you have with your raw material suppliers?
  • What information do you require from me to create a VMI program that eliminates late deliveries?
  • How many of your facilities can produce my package? To what extent do you offer manufacturing redundancy?
  • Can you give me a few examples of how you’ve set up VMI programs for similar-sized brands?

Identifying flexible packaging cost saving opportunities

 

Identifying packaging cost efficiencies

When considering changes in packaging supply, there are two key strategies to consider when evaluating suppliers:

  1. Audit of your total packaging spend: What do I buy currently?
  2. Performing a packaging spec review: Is specification data current and accurate?

Evaluating your total packaging spend and order planning strategy

Because there is a certain amount of time and “make-ready” required to set up each converting production job, order size is one of the biggest factors affecting per-package cost. For larger orders, the setup costs are spread out over more packages. The larger your order, the more competitive your pricing.

Instead of placing a 100,000 impression order each month, you’ll command better pricing by placing a 300,000 impression order every three months. And if you were to extrapolate that type of thinking across all of your product lines, you’ll achieve greater economies of scale and significantly reduce your overall packaging costs.

Perform a packaging spec review

Look at your current packaging specifications and ask yourself:

  • Are my products over-packaged? Could I save material and production costs by reducing the amount of packaging I use for each of my SKUs?
  • Is there an opportunity to consolidate my packaging specs? Say you have 10 SKUs of 10-oz. chips in 10 different packaging formats. If you switched all of these products to one uniform packaging spec, your converter could more efficiently run your packaging orders together, with fewer/quicker graphics changes. This is magnified if your converter has extended-gamut (EG) flexographic presses technologies. This allows your supplier to pass along the savings to you.

Any supplier worth the ink in their flexographic presses should be able to walk you through the above questions—identifying opportunities to streamline packaging specs across your product lines and reducing costs significantly.

Questions to ask potential flexible packaging suppliers:

  • If you were tasked with reducing my overall packaging costs, how would you approach this?
  • Can you audit how I currently order packaging and identify any potential opportunities for optimization?
  • What capabilities do you have (such as extended gamut printing) that could help us reduce packaging costs?
  • Are you able to perform a packaging specification audit for all of my product lines?

Let’s eliminate cost and supply chain inefficiencies together

After six decades of manufacturing packaging, we’ve established the expertise and material supplier relationships to overcome any cost or supply chain obstacle. Let’s solve yours together.