The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly heightened consumer concerns around packaging hygiene and safety. While there is no evidence of virus transfer from cardboard, the easily identifiable touch-safe zones can be applied at scale across a range of industries and applications meaning the anti-viral and anti-bacterial packaging provides an additional layer of protection as consumers and workers throughout the supply chain remain wary.
According to research by DS Smith, the importance of products ‘packaged in hygienic packaging’ is high among consumers with more than half (57%) saying they wash their hands thoroughly after touching e-commerce packaged products and 30% throw packaging away more quickly. The research, conducted with Ipsos MORI, suggests packaging hygiene will continue to be a priority in years to come.
The new coating contains an anti-microbial agent, which works against both bacteria and virus, to create a surface finish that inhibits the growth of bacteria and certain types of viruses. The Touchguard™ product is a patented formulation, unique in that it is specifically designed for use on the surface of paper, where it is more active and efficient in minimizing risk of infection transfer of certain bacteria and viruses.
The technology is effective across a range of bacteria and viruses including envelope viruses, of which COVID-19 is a member. This virus family requires its envelope and spikes to attach and replicate to host cells, but Touchguard® disrupts the envelope to prevent the virus from replicating, effectively mitigating the risk of person-to-person transfer. It has a proven kill rate of 99.5% in under 15 minutes on bacteria types and envelope viruses and eliminates the risk of person-to-person transfer of infections such as MRSA and E.coli.
Alan Potts, Design and Innovation Director for DS Smith commented: “Whilst it would never replace good hygiene practices and due care, this technology has the potential to bring a real and proven additional layer of protection to our customers and their consumers as packaging moves across the supply chain. Importantly, this technology maintains the sustainability of our products and it is 100% recyclable.”
Meanwhile, with 89% of adults say they will continue to shop online at the same level or even more post the summer’s lockdown, this proven technology will further build consumers’ confidence around handling packaging in their homes.
Julian Dugdale, the inventor and CEO of Touchguard said:“Our partnership with DS Smith provides us with an opportunity to bring our patented Touchguard® technology to the market at scale through its sustainable packaging offer. With its manufacturing reach across Europe and the US and an extensive e-commerce and fast-moving consumer goods customer base, we will be able to offer a range of solutions to support changing consumer habits.”
'Still 100% recyclable'
Safety is key, but the industry must not forget the huge sustainability challenges we face. DS Smith says the new range will support the sustainable packaging market with potential scope across a variety of areas including e-commerce and food packaging, while still being 100% recyclable. The Touchguard coating and packaging will hold certification to AATCC100 (MOD), ISO18184:2019 (MOD) and also complies with BfR36 recommendations for food-contact materials.
As part of its recently launched Now and Next Sustainability Strategy, DS Smith has committed to closing the loop through better design and by 2023, it will manufacture 100% reusable or recyclable packaging. More details on its wider sustainability strategy can be found here.