PAC: Package Converter, Process/Facility - Bronze

Farnell Packaging Facility


Farnell's aim was to introduce a more sustainable package by replacing the non-recyclable laminate with a 105 recyclable polyethylene. They used better technology to reduce waste and reduced the time and fuel usage in transport.

Motivation for Change

A.C.A. Co-op and Farnell Packaging are always examining new and better ways to provide better and lower cost products and packaging. This line of products provided an ideal opportunity to start our two phase approach to introducing a more sustainable package that performed and looked better than their previous package and reducing cost.

Cost Effectiveness

The economic benefits include:

  1. the 5 items can be combined for quantity pricing and A.C.A. can carry only what they need.
  2. the delivery time is only 2-3 weeks
  3. no ink changes mean less waste on set-up
  4. the product printing cycle is now reduced to 12 weeks - as you will read later, this allows for Phase 2 to be implemented faster.
  5. an additional benefit that occurred after the fact came from the A.C.A. production floor.
Since the bulk of the product is produced in plain film for commercial and restaurant use, the change over to the new Opaltone printed items requires no machine change over. Presently, the machine has to be shut down, the sealing jaws changed and the heat has to be increased to seal the laminated film.


The present package was very functional with good printed graphics. The goal of A.C.A. Co-Op and Farnell Packaging was to make a more sustainable product with graphics that were equal to the present package.

Clean Production

"Farnell Packging is registered ISO 9001-2000. Our new W& H central impression presses use: 1) closed ink chambers to minimize VOCs 2) auto wash up systems that drain direct to a distillation unit. This allows us to distill out the alcohol thinner and re-use. The waste ink sent for disposal has decreased 95% over the past 5 years. 3) the press is cooled by a recirculating Glycol system 4) by using the Opaltone system for process printing, the inks do not have to be changed betwenn items, regardless of the colours the design requires. No wash up between items. 5) the speed and precise registration of the flexo press now gives an image equal to the former rotogravure process. 6) we have also added the newest Twinlok sleeve system to eliminate the two sided tape used to mount the printing plates 7) the artwork was separated by GMF Flexo prepress in Toronto, but they output the plates in Truro, Nova Scotia from electronic filesno negatives required and no need to send the plates via courier from Ontario to Nova Scotia. 1) every desk has a blue paper recycle bin 2) office, warehouse and production lunch rooms all have bins to separate compostables, recyables and garbage 3) 100% of poly waste is recycled into: a) carry out or garbage bags b) a new product from New Brunswick - poly combined with shredded car tires to make roofing shingles 4) to reduce water consumption, a glycol cooling system was installed. The Halifax Water Commission sent a representative to our plant to see if we shut down because our water usage dropped so drastically. 5) all metal is placed in a large recycle bin 6) all corrugated material is compressed and recycled by Scotia Recycling. Scotia is part of the Minas basin Pulp and Power company that produces only 100% recycled cardboard material. 7) all wooden pallets that are damaged placed in a bin for recycling

Effective Recovery

Phase 1 was replacing the non-recyclable laminate with a 1005 recyclable polyethylene. Phase 2 - polyethylene film is 100% recyclable, but this does not actually happen to most post consumer waste.

Community Benefit

The Eco Efficiency Centre presented us with the Award for Environmental Excellence in Water Efficiency in 2000 and then the Continuous Environmental Commitment Award in 2003.

Material Health

Polyethylene is a non-toxic product with none of the various additives that have been discovered leaching from various imported plastic objects.
The resin blend used for the Eden Valley brand product is listed under F094 Farnell Packaging Limited under 18xx series. Sun Chemical, who are working hard on their own sustainability initiatives, supply the Opaltone ink system, which has more benefits:
1) we only need white and 7 colours - eliminating a hundred 5 gallon cans of custom pantone colour matched inks and the subsequent dirty metal pails that are sent for recycling after the are empty.
2) once the Opaltone inks are loaded, you only chnage the ink density, every opaltone order, whether from a chicken product, diaper bag, fish package or bread bag can be run with no ink wash-up.
3) all the nasty heavy metals were legislated out of inks in Canada about 20 years ago (not the case with many products imported from Asia that were not properly checked)

Resource & Energy Optimization

This product is all about change to better processes. The electronic file transfers from Ontario to Nova Scotia, eliminating film negatives and couriers. The new presses that reduce VOC's, ink changeovers, re-use thinners and have an auto set up system that reduces set-up from approx 3,000 feet of plastic film to 200 feet. The plate mounting on Twinlock sleeves to eliminate two-sided tape. The Opaltone ink system that eliminates colour changes and ink inventory. The flexo graphics that provide a better printed image than the rotogravure The ability for the customer to buy only what they need for a 90 day cycle to reduce inventory cost. Transportation usage is reduced from 10 weeks on a ship, a train and then a truck to 1.5 hours on a truck. Reduced changeovers and waste at A.C.A. Nova Scotia has an archaic energy policy and grants a total monopoly to 1 company that is lees than progressive, despite all the advertising. There is no alternative presently available to power purchasing in Nova Scotia. We have one of the best sources of wind and tidal power on the entire planet, but development is restricted because there is no open form power contract legislation (and nothing pending). Despite the backward political energy policies, Farnell Packaging has forged ahead and has written to NS Power to request proposals to have all or a portion of our electricity needs met from renewable energy sources. No response to date, but we will continue to keep the pressure on for alternatives.

Categories: Facility/Process General Packaging PAC Award Winner