Worth an overall value of $31.9 billion in 2018, the global tube industry had been on track to expand at a CAGR of 6.5% by 2025, strengthened by the personal care category’s 35% market share (Grand View Research; Aug 2019). The spread of Covid-19, however, has unexpectedly upended global industries, compelling companies to adapt how they do business and plan for what lies ahead as the world economy recuperates to find a new normal.
In spite of present market slowdowns, tube suppliers have continued to forge ahead with new tube innovations.
Neopac recently introduced its SpringTube packaging solution for cosmetics and personal care products. Developed by subsidiary 3D Neopac, the tube is specially designed to maintain its shape during use. Available in fill volumes from 40-300ml, the tube also pairs with a variety of caps and is amenable to digital, flexo or metallic foil process decoration, pairing stylish looks with functionality. “For product protection, an ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) barrier preserves oxygen-sensitive formulas and helps extend the shelf life of beauty and personal care products,” says Cornelia Schmid, head of marketing, Neopac.
And speaking of deco, Neopac recently introduced DigitAll360°, its new direct-to-shape digital decoration service for tubes. Developed to address demand for high-quality variable printing, precision color matching, flexible batch sizes and expedited delivery, DigitAll360° prints photorealistic graphics and text on the entire surface of cylindrical containers in a wide variety of substrates and almost unlimited color palettes. “DigitAll360° offers 360° decoration with no slit or overlap, and also delivers outstanding on-cap, seam and shoulder printing,” Schmid explains. “As impressive as where it can print is what it can print—highly opaque whites and glosses, vividly displayed to make products stand out.”
Viva Marketing has developed a new Powder Tube to make transporting and dispensing powder products more convenient. The package comes with a precise, center-dispensing cap, and an over cap to measure powder volume. The format gives consumers the convenience of a tube format in 2.5- to 16.5-oz sizes, a mono-material polypropylene design (tube, cap and label) with options for high content PCR, and Viva’s in-mold label to conceal any color limitations of PCR with full shoulder to crimp and 360° branding.
Berry Global has introduced several tube innovations in the past year, including a domestically-assembled Extruded Oval tube, a laminate tube with Mirafoil ink for a premium, metallic effect without the use of foil, as well as an extruded tube with a child-resistant closure, which Vali Braselton, marketing manager, Berry Global, says would be ideally suited for CBD-based beauty and personal care products.
For Foshan Huihong Plastic Industrial Co., Ltd., tube innovation has revolved around functional caps, such as rollerballs and brushes, with vibrational functionality to help at-home skincare products achieve salon-quality facial results. “We kept researching and developing the vibrational mode by using different materials to find the best product for satisfying customers’ requirements,” says Jacky Zeng, general manager. “The functional caps have the massage function that helps creams absorb quicker and more completely.”
Beauty brand Marubi utilized this uniquely functional cap for its Multiple Peptide Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream, which is housed in a high gloss, 30g, 22mm diameter aluminum tube.
The Marubi cap resembles a cut diamond thanks to silver electroplating, which also delivers a cooling effect. Zeng says the cap’s massaging vibration mode is automatically initiated when it detects movement against the skin, and the massage utilizes a needle roller bearing to smoothly roll 360 degrees in the eye area. “With a high-frequency pulse and vibration massage, skin microcirculation is improved, which helps in promoting skin absorption,” he says, adding that the rolling cap mechanism and solid contact surface replaces traditional finger application, lowering the risk of the formula contamination due to the reduced contact during application.
WWP recently worked with New Avon to develop a tube for Get Me Glowing Dazzling Drops, a rose gold fluid formulated to impart a moisturizing, luminous highlight to the skin.
The 19mm white tube features a satin finish and a pin-point tip made of thermoplastic rubber (TPR) for precision application. The TPR tip is an alternate material to the rigid PE used for conventional tube sleeves and was created with a unique over-molding process to facilitate improved application and product performance.
Sometimes innovation is achieved in technical execution. Global Packaging Inc. created understatedly elegant tubes for body lotion and exfoliation formula by Necessaire. The tube, distributed by Casepak, is a 200ml white tube with a heavy-weighted white or custom color cap with one color black silk screen printing, and conveys a high-end look on the shelf.
Pattern Beauty also selected an understatedly elegant look with the tubes for its shampoos, conditioners and gels. The tubes, produced by Viva Marketing (Canada) Ltd., sport a clean, crisp profile with a velvet soft touch finish. The tubes are all mono-material, recycle-ready PP tube + cap + in-mold label and feature artwork that’s simple yet striking with a pop of bright gold yellow also echoed in the matte custom color caps.
Improving Environmental Impact
Producing tubes using sustainable materials continues to be a predominant trend. Tube manufacturers are continuing to explore “eco-friendlier” materials in combination with decorating options to help create a wow-worthy impact.
“The interest in sustainable tubes has seen a large increase since last year,” reports Vinay Upasani, president, Global Packaging, which offers eco-friendly, high percentage PCR content tubes and tubes made from bio-resin, which can be paired with caps made of up to 50% PP PCR or 100% PE PCR screw on caps. “More and more customers tend to inquire about the use of eco-friendly tubes using PCR and bio-resin.”
One of Neopac’s most prominent focuses has been on sustainability in both materials and tubes, which resonated with Farfalla Beauty Care. The company partnered with Neopac to produce a 100ml tube with a tamper evident flip top cap that was co-extruded using 50% recycling plastics in tube body and delivers EVOH for the protection of the 100% natural, Natrue certified formula.
“Due to the recycling-material, the tube has a smaller carbon footprint and a lower environmental impact over its entire lifecycle,” Schmid comments. “The contact layer is certified for full food-contact and approved by the FDA, Ecocert and Cosmos.”
The tube’s virgin outer layer supports secure printability and color stability and features eight-color offset and two-color silkscreen printing with golden hot foil stamping for maximum visual appeal.
Sustainability is an important business component for Berry Global as well. The company often works with customers to provide laminate and extruded tube options with PCR-content up to 100%, according to the company’s Braselton. A big trend supporting this is the migration of toothpaste out of traditional aluminum tubes and into tubes comprised of all plastic.
Smile Direct recently worked with Berry to develop a signature tube for its toothpaste which was previously sold directly to consumers but is now being sold in brick and mortar outlets. The new tube is an all-plastic tube with 45% PCR, and Berry is color matching a custom color substrate and adding an EVOH barrier for the brand’s next order. The tube will feature a full color flood of purple accented with matte and glass varnish and topped with a white flip top cap.
JSN Industries Inc. offers a sugar cane-based green polymer resin, which the company says is virtually indistinguishable from its standard resin blends, making it an easy route for customers to become sustainable in tubes.
“One way of making packaging more sustainable is to use less plastic in it–to lightweight it,” says Viva’s Melanie Gaudun, business development manager.
That’s the concept behind Viva’s original Integral tube. The D25 round tube with direct decoration integrates the shoulders and cap to produce a tube and cap in one piece, with less material. “Building on this design, Viva is now offering a D48.5 round Integral tube that is 30% lighter, with options for high content PCR in tube and cap, and with the full benefits of an in-mold label,” Gaudun says, adding that the tube is a mono-material, polypropylene (PP) tube, cap and label, with perfect cap-tube color matching and perfect cap alignment with the artwork. “What’s most exciting about this tube is savings on environmental impacts of up to 60% over industry comparables in the three largest tube impact categories: global warming, fine particulate matter formation, and human non-carcinogenic toxicity.”
One of WWP’s newest eco-friendly tube options, the Eco Pac tube family, is engineered as a light weighted bio-PE package (sleeve, head and disk top). The Eco Pac tubes are approximately 35% lighter than conventional tubes with dispensing closures. By reducing the packaging weight, Eco-Pac also helps in reducing the product’s carbon footprint, making it the eco-friendly choice and helps in achieving the company’s ultimate sustainability goals.
Viva’s Gaudun adds that one measure encouraging the improved use of recycled plastic in the UK is a recently approved tax on packaging made from less than 30% recycled plastic. Similar initiatives are also in process across Europe.
The COVID Conundrum
The beauty segment is far from business as usual, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. But adversity often gives rise to acts of humanity, and tube suppliers are stepping up to respond by transitioning from beauty and personal care tube production to supplying packaging and materials for emergency goods.
There’s a huge demand for hand sanitizer,” says Stephane Beauchemin, vice president sales and marketing, Plastube. “People are shopping for capacity, not price, and capacity is hard to find, and they need manufacturers to turn these items around quickly.”
Plastube is partnering with strategic customers and fillers to produce hundreds of thousands of tubes of hand sanitizer in 2- to 4-oz size ranges. “We had to reorganize and move quickly to make sure we could support the capacity,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see so many industries shifting gears to accommodate a variety of needs.”
Montebello Packaging partnered with its sister filling company, Monfitello, to rapidly produce and fill tubes with hand sanitizer in a turnkey environment with fill volumes ranging from 60- to 125ml.
“We opened up our tube manufacturing lines in both aluminum and laminate tubes for a quick turnaround to provide the packaging for our health care market,” explains Kathy Mercer, director of sales, Montebello Packaging. “Monfitello obtained their certificate to fill hand sanitizer in-house within days, and thanks to the aid of ProSys Servo Filling Systems, a new filling line was purchased with expedited delivery.”
Viva has also fielded increased interest in tubes for antibacterial hand sanitizers (with and without alcohol) and hand creams in different sizes. In addition, Viva has expanded capacity to manufacture medical face shields and committed to adding new production capabilities to its Toronto facility for both face shields and face masks.
JSN reports they’ve been responding to considerable and immediate needs for personal size sanitizing, cleansing and therapeutic products, coupled with a pronounced focus on American owned/American made items. “Between earlier trade and tariff considerations, and the emergency of Covid-19, we have experienced significant on-shoring trends back to domestic suppliers,” comments Sandy Nagel, vice president, JSN.
Nagel adds that some of JSN’s personal care customers thoughtfully identified which of their tube orders could be delayed to help expedite emergency orders. “Those production slots are being devoted to the urgent and sustained need caused by Covid-19,” she says, noting that employee participation during emergency product production has been outstanding as the company runs at full capacity and into weekends to accommodate as many orders as possible. “There is 100% participation from all manufacturing personnel to pitch in and do their share in the Covid-19 fight [and] they share in our pride in providing products for this crisis and keeping part of our economy going.”
Looking immediately ahead, Berry Global’s Braselton says tubes are an ideal packaging medium for everyday consumer products that clean, protect and soothe including body wash, moisturizer and medicated products. “In the short term, the product mix for tubes might change, with higher demand for more tubes for home hair dye and skin nourishing products and less for sunscreen, for example,” she says.
WWP CEO Josh Kirschbaum agrees, and concludes that the tube sector is particularly poised to help support brands launching products in rising categories like skincare, personal care, hand care and hygiene. “While WWP is currently focused on giving back, the company is also looking forward to the future on how we can help support our customers’ growth after these difficult times,” he says. “We do expect the tube market to continue to increase because tubes offer a hygienic dispensing experience and are relatively more affordable [and] we are working on creating new innovations and designs in this category to help support this growth and demand.”