The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has changed its requirements for testing the strength of alcoholic beverage packaging, a move that may benefit Canadian manufacturers that produce recycled board, an industry council announced.
The paper packaging industry’s environmental council (PPEC) has worked with the LCBO for two years to understand the conditions wine and beer boxes needed to perform under. While most retailers have switched standards, the LCBO has used the burst strength or Mullen test to assess box durability for more than 20 years. Now, after vigorous testing, suppliers can use the edge crush test (ECT) as an alternative that opens up the door to new materials.
“Our relationship with the LCBO has been very good, not confrontational at all,” PPEC Executive Director John Mullinder said in a January 9, 2013 statement to media. “We worked through the issues and I think we can both be satisfied with the results to date. We recognize, however, that this door to ECT would not have been opened without PPEC’s efforts, and without the solid technical support we received from member companies.”
The ECT method measures the cross-direction crushing of a sample of corrugated board and the ability of the board’s construction to resist crushing.
LCBO officials were invited to tour various paper facilities, including a recycling mill, a corrugated converting plant, and an industry testing laboratory.
PPEC initiated laboratory trials using standards from the International Safe Transit Association. Various types of boxes and glass bottles were shaken, dropped, and slammed into hard surfaces to see how they performed, PPEC officials said. They developed a four-minute video “Shake, Rattle and Drop” to share with LCBO staff.
PPEC officials approached the LCBO with the perspective that the Mullen test was not a reliable gauge of a box’s overall performance. In one test with the LCBO, the box with the highest Mullen rating (and therefore most likely to be the best performer under LCBO specifications) was actually the worst performing box overall.
In a January 7, 2013 statement, LCBO VP of Logistics and Quality Assurance, George Soleas, said the liquor chain switched to an ECT 32 shipping container rating for all LCBO and Vintages products after intensive testing.
“This change provides flexibility to our suppliers to choose between ECT 32-rated corrugated cartons or continuing to use cartons that achieve the required burst strength for the origin, type and size of consumer units packaged inside,” Soleas wrote in the announcement. “This change is also positive for the environment, as it will encourage more global use of 100 per cent recycled linerboard in the manufacturing of corrugated shipping containers.”
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