Rounding into Form

Tube maker uses new PCR process and two PRC factories to meet green mandate for Almay and Freeman.

By John Conroy
 
 

 

The one-piece oval tube for Freeman’s GoodStuff Organics line of facial masks, scrubs, and hand creams utilizes PCR.

When the world’s largest retailer taps into the world’s most powerful social movement, business tends to take notice. So when Wal-Mart put the word out that it wanted more goods with eco-friendly packages on its store shelves, Revlon and Freeman knew it had to find the right manufacturing partner.
 
 
Both companies called on World Wide Packaging (WWP; Florham Park, NJ). Revlon had worked hand in glove with WWP as a long-standing customer, and Freeman had, well, impeccable timing, notes Jeff Hayet, vice president of global sales. WWP had spent the last several years developing the technology required to manufacture eco-friendly tubes using postconsumer recycled (PCR) materials.
 
 
“Revlon came to us as one of the very few plastic tube companies in the world with the manufacturing means to produce a green plastic tube,” Hayet says. WWP manufactured two products designed to satisfy what the executive calls “Wal-Mart’s mandate.” The manufacturer produced 19- and 30-mm lip gloss tubes for Revlon’s Almay Pure Blends line and a one-piece oval tube for Freeman’s GoodStuff Organics line of facial masks, scrubs, and hand creams.
 
 
The Almay slant-tip product is a three-layer tube with a middle layer made of high-density recycled PE milk containers. The middle layer does not come into touch with the dispensable product in either the Almay or the Freeman tubes. “This is the first oval, coextruded PCR tube ever produced in the world,” Hayet claims.
 
 
WWP developed special extrusion and handling equipment to reprocess the PCR material. Hayet says it’s “a complicated material to sandwich between two…layers of polyethylene. You alter the molecular structure of the material when you moltenize it and try to reprocess it.” In this instance, the lip gloss tube “attempts to go out of round,” so WWP invented a method to introduce electrostatic discharge into a water bath in order to maintain the tube’s round shape.


For its Almay Pure Blends line, Revlon uses WWP’s three-layer tubes with middle layers made of high-density recycled PE milk containers.

The Freeman product is quite different from the Almay tube, Hayet says. Unlike “a traditional tube,” the Freeman GoodStuff Organics container is a one-piece patented plastic tube with a threadless head that acts as the cap. “In layman’s terms, it looks like a flip-top cap. It’s not,” he says, even though “the head aesthetically looks like a cap.”
 
 
The 35- and 50-mm tubes are unique, Hayet says. The one-piece patented technology produced a coextruded tube sleeve composed of the same PCR material as the Almay product. Always looking to develop “something unique or different that has value,” WWP welcomed Wal-Mart’s green-focused business decision as another challenge.
 
 
“We always try to produce something no one else can,” Hayet asserts. “We intentionally encouraged [Freeman] to go with something unique,” he says.
 
 
Hayet says working with Freeman “almost happened by accident.” WWP had already polished and used its PCR-capable production methods for Revlon and other large multinational cosmetic companies when Freeman approached the manufacturer, unsure whether the tube maker could help. Happily for Freeman, the company benefited from the advancements WWP developed for companies such as Revlon, Hayet notes.
 
 
Manufacturing the tubes with PCR material takes more time than using standard processes, Hayet says. Making the tubes in the United States could have resulted in “a 30% up-charge” because of this slower manufacturing process. The company avoided passing on the higher cost because it has “equity position” in two ISO-certified factories in China, where labor and other costs are lower, he says. “We have the means to access large quantities of reprocessed purified material…and ship it to one of our two factories in Asia,” Hayet points out.
 
 
WWP has had an Asian production presence for 26 years, says Hayet, adding, “our business model was to duplicate a U.S. footprint in Asia.” The manufacturer has always maintained that its Asian operations make products comparable in quality to those made on U.S. and European machinery. The Asian connection has another benefit as well. The rapid lead times enable WWP to ship finished product from China to Los Angeles in 12 days, despite being 9600 miles away.
 
 
Customers will be able to find the Almay tubes on Wal-Mart’s shelves starting September 1, Hayet says. “It took a lot of time and money to get this far,” he says of the eco-friendly manufacturing capability. “And these are two great stories because of the companies in question.”
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