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Tuesday, August 31st 2010

A Better Way to Package Cans:
Q & A with PakTech of Oregon

PakTech's carriers are the future for canned craft beer.

Maybe you've been noticing something a little bit different about the way those cans of craft beer you're buying are being packaged. Gone are the days of those cheap, annoying, unsafe and unreliable plastic ring holders. Today's better beer deserves a better way to get from the brewery to your refrigerator/cooler/mountain stream. PakTech of Eugene, Oregon thought about that as well. We can thank them for introducing those colorful new can "handles" we've been seeing keeping all our great beers safely together.

I wanted to learn a little more about PakTech, and their role in the canned craft beer industry, so I wrote to Amie Thomas, PakTech's Marketing Manager. Amie was quick to respond and full of great information. Cheers Amie!

(CC) Can you give us a little background about PakTech?

(AT) PakTech has been providing packaging carrier handles to the food and beverage industries for over 17 years and growing! We serve every major brand and processor with carrier handles for bulk secondary packaging, and most customer have automated application equipment to apply our handles at their facility. All of our services are under one roof- from handle design, tooling and manufacturing to application design, build and service. This provides optimum quality, flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

(CC) When did PakTech start making six- and four-pack holders for beer?

(AT) We designed our first can carrier about 4 years ago, and the design has gone through several revisions – from fully open top to fully covered. We now have the ideal design, which is almost completely covered, but has ‘vented’ lids to make it easier to manufacture and prevents condensation on the can top. The handles also ‘nest’ together well and allow the product to stack atop one another easily. Maui Brewing was our first larger volume beer can handle customer, and they have been with PakTech since June 2008. Wow- they are growing so well – great beer and great packaging!


this machine can package 600 cans per minute!

(AT) I also wanted to take the opportunity to let you know about our new equipment, which applies our can handles automatically. The CCA600 applicator (pictured above), applies QuadPaks or 6Paks at the rate of 600 cans per minute. Maui Brewing just received their machine (our first in plant) and we are excited to be able to offer automation for our can handles – any speeds from manual up to 2400 cans per minute.

(CC) What are PakTech's carriers made out of?

(AT) All handles are made of HDPE, #2 plastic. This is the most universally recyclable consumer plastic and the ideal material for our injection molding process and products.

(CC) I've noticed they are recyclable, can you give me a little more information about the recycling process?

(AT) Again, #2 plastic is easily recyclable, and we are proud to provide a low-waste 100% recyclable packaging method. All of our ‘scrap’ material in-house (ie, from color changes) gets picked up by Denton Plastics, who reprocesses the material and resells it – to make products such as composite lumber for decking. We are also proud of our clean manufacturing processes, and have been recognized by Denton Plastics and the Oregon Business community (second year to be on the Top 100 Green Oregon Businesses). We are doing our part to be an environmentally-positive packaging provider. I am a very firm believer in recycling and encourage consumers do their part to recycle everything they can – especially their packaging!


(CC) About how many craft brewery clients does PakTech have now?

(AT) Oh my- the list is growing…Although we have had the handles for several years, it seems that the can handles are really growing right now. Plus, now that automated application is developed, we are marketing the heck out of them because we love these handles! (Its hard to sell handles without automated application options) We have about 15 customers who order can handles regularly, and we have dozens of proposals out there. The volumes on most orders are relatively small, and many are doing market tests and such. Ask me next year!

(CC) What are the benefits for breweries using PakTech's can holders?

(AT) Our handles in general provide a simple, low-waste, unique packaging solution, and Im sure this is true for craft brewers as well. Its nice to have an alternative to the standard 6Pack rings and cardboard, which is not ideal in wet or cold environments. Our newest designs also provide 98% more ‘dust/debris’ coverage compared to the standard 6-pack rings. We just completed an independent third party test in order to put a number on it and it was confirmed that the protection is substantial. This is important for consumers who often face nasty tops when they buy their favorite canned beverage – no need to sterilize the tops of cans when they have PakTech handles on them! Plus, OK, they look really good too! Colors are eye-catching…


packaged cans of La Gavilana's tequila! que bueno!!

(CC) Do you see the old six-pack holders becoming obsolete at some point?

(AT) HA- yes! Well, maybe- we like competition- it makes us better. But, yes, we are hoping that craft brewers will revolutionize canned beer packaging and that everyone will need PakTech handles! We certainly believe that our handles and application equipment provide an exceptional alternative.

(CC) I see you are located in Eugene, Oregon, home to many fine beers. What is your favorite Oregon craft beer?

(AT) Ahhh, Oregon is kind of beer heaven…I do love my wine though. OK, I also love Ninkasi’s pale ale – its not canned, but its delicious. What a cool company- they need to be in cans though- their large bottles aren’t very portable….

(CC) Thanks Amie for your time! Cheers!

Posted by Russ