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Breezer wrapped in a winning strategy

Smurfit Kappa UK is pushing the boundaries of corrugated packaging, earning itself an array of prestigious industry awards.

Corrugated packaging is now much more than just a brown box. It has become a cost-saving, environmentally friendly packaging concept that adds value to brands.

Smurfit Kappa UK, a world leader in corrugated packaging, puts a lot of emphasis on eye-catching graphics that stand out on shelves. Three of its converting plants in the UK – operating as Smurfit Kappa Print Vision – are leading the way in pre- and post-print technology.

Accordingly, Billerud is the sole supplier of kraftliner to Smurfit Kappa’s sheet feeding plants. John McAllister, General Manager of Smurfit Kappa Print Division, says, “We specialise in the high-end print market and are pushing what we can achieve in pre- and post-print. We couldn’t do that without a good-coated material. Billerud is integral to that.”

Smurfit Kappa’s recent work using Billerud Decor pushed innovation to the fore with the Bacardi Breezer Cool Box. The pack placed first in the Corrugated Post-Print Category at the recent FlexoTech International Print & Innovations Awards.

The technical challenges of the assignment were complex. The box needed to be strong enough to serve as a transit pack for the Bacardi Breezers, and it needed to be watertight in order to hold ice around the bottles at a party or barbeque.

Smurfit Kappa believed that by using Billerud Decor Kraftliner, with a 150 gsm B-flute, the strength of the material would eliminate the need for a wax or polythene lining inside the box, thereby making the pack much more sustainable. While B-flute is known for being difficult to print on because of its fluted structure, Decor offers a smooth, high-quality print base.

Rigorous testing proved the liner could withstand the ice. Smurfit Kappa Print Vision Sales Director Paul Cahill explains, “We created a mock-up example to verify our mathematical modelling. We water-tested over two days, without the box collapsing. The waterproofing was achieved by relying on the high cobb factor [natural waterproofing] of the Decor Kraftliner used on the inside of the box.”

The environmental ethos of Billerud matched the sustainability requirements of Bacardi. Cahill notes, “Being able to use a renewable, sustainable material that is FSC-approved was essential. It is important to Bacardi that material is ethically sourced, and knowing that Billerud has carried out extensive environmental audits meets that need.”

Smurfit Kappa also took advantage of Decor’s high strength and printability in a recent project for UK brewery Frederic Robinson Ltd.

The converter’s work on a ‘wood effect’ one-piece presentation pack for Old Tom traditional real ale was instrumental in significantly reducing packaging costs and making the product appeal to a wider retail market.

The pack won the Corrugated Pack of the Year award at the UK Packaging Awards. This is the second award Smurfit Kappa has received for this project; the gift pack won gold at the European Flexographic Industry Association (EFIA) Awards last year in the Post Print Coated Line-Screen category.

The two bottles of ale and a special glass were originally packed in a wooden box, which was expensive to produce. Frederic Robinson buyer John Robinson says, “The corrugated pack reduced unit costs considerably and this allows us to venture into different markets and approach leading retailers.”

Smurfit Kappa used its structural expertise to turn the product on its back and use the top and bottom flaps to secure it. The box, labelled the ‘Wrong Way Box,’ can also be supplied flat, reducing storage costs.

Smurfit Kappa’s Paul Cahill says, “The quality of Decor combined with our skills at achieving high-quality flexographic print, artwork and repro has produced a pack that gives justice to the Old Tom brand.”

UK Packaging Awards
The UK Packaging Awards are held yearly and recognise all aspects of the packaging supply chain. There are 20 categories, each of which reward packaging quality, consistency, strategy, financial performance and environmental impact.

Organised by UK packaging trade magazine Packaging News, the awards are completely impartial and judged by an independent panel consisting of high-profile packaging buyers, specifiers and consultants.

Cast of characters
The material: Billerud Decor 170 gsm light coated White Top Kraftliner.

Decor is a light coated 100-percent white top kraftliner. It has high strength and overall thickness combined with a smooth printing surface. Billerud's Decor is used for products that need strong and stable corrugated packaging with a good printing surface and high visual impact. It is available in grammages from 120 gsm to 170 gsm.

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