Few good things come easy. Mary Lee, co-owner of BagEm Packaging Services (Toronto), a converter/manufacturer sales agent of flexible packaging in Canada, was approached three years ago by a company in the United States that wanted a child-resistant package for use in the cannabis industry.
“After numerous revisions and modifications, we finally got it,” says Lee of the patent-pending TruLoc pouch designed with a unique open/close mechanics. “It’s been certified by an independent laboratory to be compliant with ASTM D3475, the child-resistant packaging standard. That’s also the equivalent of CFR 1700.20.”
Frequently timing is everything, and it is no different here: The development comes against the 2016 announcement by the Government of Canada that it would legalize marijuana in 2018.
Lee explains that the innovative open/close mechanism that makes it unique comes from a marriage of the psychology of human habitual behavior and technology. Contrary to other pouches that are normally opened from the top, that is not the case with this one.
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“Specifically designed to prevent children from opening it, this is opened by users inserting their fingers under the flaps until they touch the closure,” she says. “Only with an upward and rolling motion, will the pouch open. Even when told about utilizing the flaps, children tend to pull the flaps outward which is a single motion and will not unlock the pouch.”
BagEm’s unique CR TruLoc pouch provides a barrier to odors, UV light and moisture and is claimed as is an excellent package for sensitive materials and unsafe chemicals as well. PlasticsToday learned that the oxygen-barrier pouch is constructed of 25-micron cast polypropylene/12-micron vacuum-metallized polyester (PET)/50-micron cast polyethylene.
Lee, who says it is appropriate to be used for dry powdered and granular products, answers PlasticsToday’s additional questions about this one-of-a- kind CR pouch.
How would you characterize the cannabis market in Canada and the U.S.?
Lee: There is a great demand of medical and recreational in Canada, and I believe in the U.S. as well. The goal of legalizing is to regulate and restrict access to the substance. The Government of Canada announced on April 20, 2016, that it would work on the legalization of marijuana. The week of April 10, 2017, it announced that the legislation of legalizing marijuana would be put in place by July 1, 2018.
It is the general belief that it will be both OTC at pharmaceutical drug stores or province-controlled liquor stores or registered dispensaries and mail order which is now one of the ways for registered marijuana patients to get the substance. The details of the legislation are still to be confirmed and announced. More can be found in this Washington Post article.
What packaging format will this replace?
Lee: It will replace zip-lock and PE bags and plastic and glass pill bottles.
What's the current market status for the TruLoc pouch?
Lee: We are currently importing offshore, but are interested in entering a cooperative venture with a North America manufacturer. We are in talks with a few Canadian packaging companies that are interested in partnering with us in distributing and/or manufacturing the pouch. There are also local growers who are impressed with our pouch after trying our samples. We are still in the initial stage of promoting our pouch. We forecast and work towards gaining at least half of the local market.
Because the population of the U.S. is ten times that of Canada, we look forward to using effective marketing to capture as large as possible a portion of the U.S. market as is possible.
What are the advantages of this design vs. other CR methods?
Lee: OurTruLoc pouch plays on the human habitual behavior of opening a package from the top. It is the first obstacle for children and then, when children were demonstrated to use the flaps, almost all of them simply pull the flaps outwards which would not open the pouch because opening the pouch requires two motions, push and roll.
It does not have a marker such as a red spot or a thumb mark etc., to attract the attention of children as some of our competition.
There is no cumbersome lock on the pouch, which cuts down on the cost of manufacturing, shipping and storage. It is also a tamper-proof package.
What are the pouch options?
Lee: The width can range from 4 inches for a prepackaged inner bag to 12 inches for a mailer. These sizes are based on the popular sizes currently used in the market. The pouch can be as deep as the customer wants. Wicket headers and wicket holes can be added for automated machinery.
OurTruLoc pouch is made with printable material, therefore graphics and logos can be printed on the pouch.
What's the cost premium vs. standard reclosable flexpacks?
Lee: OurTruLoc pouch is more economical than those currently in the market.
Anything else worth mentioning?
Lee: Our pouch is also suitable for any other toxic materials that are unsafe for children. It is not only for the cannabis industry, but also for pharmaceuticals, home care products and more.
BagEm Packaging Services can be reached at [email protected]