V-Shapes invented and patented a new idea for single-portion packaging, that the company says makes it easier and more efficient with respect to the traditional single-portion packets on the market. We speak with with Christian Burattini, CEO of V-Shapes, about how the company addresses consumer frustration with single-serve packs thanks to a patented one hand opening mechanism.
Could you tell us a bit more about how the idea for V-shapes was conceived?
Our founders have more than 20 years’ experience in the packaging industry, especially the growing single-serve segment. We noticed that many people have difficulty opening single-serve packages. It requires two hands, and often the contents are either not fully consumed or there is spillage or leakage that is not hygienic and causes waste and frustration. As a result, we came up with the idea of opening a package with one hand as a better single-serve solution for a wide range of products, from hand sanitizer to honey. We set our minds to the problem and decided to form our own company to pursue it. Through our discussions with potential customers, our market research, and our internal R&D, the V-Shapes concept was born, with the launch of the company in 2018.
How does the product enable opening with one hand, and at the same time avoids leaks when the product is not handled?
During the process of manufacturing and filling the sachets, the V-Shapes manufacturing line creates a very precise crash deformation or cut forming a guided shape in the bottom material for each sachet. The deformation is deep enough to make it easy to finish opening when the user creates a V-Shape – clever, huh? – with the sachet using three fingers in a gesture to open it. But it is not deep enough to cause leakage, even under pressure or being bounced around in the purse or pocket. Since magazine tip-ins were a clear target market for us, we thoroughly tested sachets against the pressure they would receive in the ordinary tip-in process and the handling of bundles of magazines during the distribution process. There was absolutely no leakage experienced in these tests, nor has there been, as far as we know, in actual live magazine tip-in or other experiences.
What types of products is V-Shapes suitable for?
Currently we can fill sachets with liquid products such as various cosmetic products, haircare, hand sanitizer, olive oil, honey, etc., as well as semi-solids such as peanut butter and hazelnut spread. We also believe that we will be able to accommodate powdered products in the near future. The advantage for these single-serve or single-dose products is that up to 98% of the product can be dispensed with a single one-handed gesture, reducing waste and reducing the amount of product that needs to be used in the filling process. In addition, V-Shapes sachets can be filled to capacity without the need to leave air head space, as most other single-serve solutions require. This eliminates the damage oxidation can cause and extends the shelf-life of sensitive products. We are especially excited about the reception we have received from cosmetics brands who are increasingly using magazine tip-ins to distribute samples in light of the pandemic and reduced access to in-person retail venues. We also see these sachets as an excellent replacement for bulk dispensers of things like condiments in airports and event venues in light of their more hygienic nature, and they are easier to use than current single-use packets typically used in these venues.
Could you tell us about the material V-Shapes is made of?
We have several different types of substrate that we can use in the manufacturing process, depending on the customer requirements and desired positioning with respect to sustainability. One of these is 100% industrially recyclable V-Shapes proprietary PP media. Recently, TOMRA Sorting, a designer of customized sorting and recycling solutions, has verified using its Near Infrared (NIR) laser detection system that V-Shapes polypropylene sachets are detectable as 100% polypropylene and can be appropriately redirected from the waste stream for industrial recycling. TOMRA experts also tell us that even our smallest sachet – 40 mm x 50 mm – is designed to pass through the sieving process. In addition, the V-shape of used sachets also prevents anything falling through in the sieving process, even when the recycler uses larger sieving screens. Both top and bottom layers of the tested material also contain a thin layer of oxidized aluminium to prevent migration, which does not impact the recyclability of the sachets in any significant way.
Another is through our partnership with NatureWorks and its Ingeo solution, which is compostable. According to NatureWorks LLC experts, to claim compostability, the time restriction is three months; that is, your items should be 90% biodegradable and compostable within three months. The elements that come from the breakdown of the material should be nontoxic and natural, so the final compost does not have any toxic material in it. Ingeo meets those requirements.
So, depending on whether the brand wants compostable sachets – perhaps for use in an events venue where sachets for condiments might be mixed in with food waste – or industrially recyclable for other types of waste streams, we can meet those needs. Our goal is not to create more plastic waste, but rather, to create an easy way for consumers to extract virtually all of the contents of a sachet, using a one-handed gesture, and place the empty sachet into the appropriate recycling or composting waste stream.
What are the design possibilities for V-Shapes?
Almost limitless! We have sizes ranging from 40mm x 50 mm to 100mm x 100mm. Brands can choose to use a variety of printing options, from simple one-color coding to high-quality full-colour printing on the top and/or bottom of the sachet to promote brand image. We are also introducing high-quality inline aqueous inkjet printing at 1600x1600 dpi that will eliminate the need for a pre-print step, improving the system productivity even more and giving brands even more capability to optimize their brand messaging and project the best possible brand identity. The aqueous inks we are using meet requirements for direct food contact and are scratch and rub resistant without the need for lamination.
Since this is a new packaging type, and it is not always easy to educate the market on innovations like this, sachets typically also include a graphic that shows users how to open the sachets. We hope that won’t be necessary over time! In addition, unlike other single-serve packaging options, we can fill the sachets completely with no air headspace. That means that equivalent product is able to be placed in a smaller sachet size. And with no air inside the package, there is no opportunity for oxidation, and thus a longer shelf life for sensitive products.
Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!