Choosing the ‘Tube of the Year’ was again on the agenda at the recent General Assembly meeting of etma, the European tube manufacturers association. This year, there were as many as 40 tubes submitted by about 20 member companies. Once again the judges were presented with the particularly difficult task of selecting only one winner in each of the categories for aluminium, plastic, laminate and prototype tubes. Not an easy choice given the abundance of new ideas, innovative uses and technical innovations waiting to be assessed.


First place in the Aluminium Tube category went to Italian tubemaker La Metallurgica for a tube for a hair dye. The special feature here is that although the tubes all appear to look the same, the actual innovation is concealed. A watermark that is invisible to the human eye is perfectly integrated into the printed image; a special software even allows different digital watermarks to be embedded in the motif. With the help of the Linkreader app, the respective digital marking on the tube can be easily scanned. Using a smartphone or tablet, the consumer then has direct access to the most diverse range of digital data and media. The possibilities are almost endless: the client’s own website, special landing pages, videos, Facebook profiles, contact data for further communication, blogs and forums, and other customised information. A true milestone for consumer-oriented communication of the future and, not least, added important protection against product counterfeiting.

French producer Albéa carried off first prize in the Plastic Tube category. A new flip-top cap was developed for the Klorane brand from Pierre Fabre. Compact and flat, the ‘Slim Cap‘ is one of the lightest closures currently available in the marketplace. With its particularly flat shoulders and a special sharp edge, the design ensures that water does not accumulate in the cap. The ‘Slim Caps‘ exceptional shape differentiates it clearly from other popular closures and thus gives the tube an eye-catching look. When it comes to consumer perception at the point of sale, it creates a tube with an unmistakeable and powerful presence. Its attractive appearance and characteristic colouring is obtained using a combination of flexo and silk-screen printing.

The winning Laminate Tube was submitted by Hoffmann Neopac from Switzerland. The so-called ‘no mess’ applicator was developed to make the tube for Voltaren even more consumer-friendly and easier to use. The novel massage nozzle for applying the gel is self-closing, in contrast to the usual sponge or roll-on applicators that do not have such an intuitive closure system. At the same time, the special design of the applicator also minimises gel residues after application and is thus cleaner and more hygienic than other solutions on the market.

The particularly stable shape of the tube helps users reach their backs and shoulders more easily. The applicator can be removed easily by means of a quick-release threaded connection. A TopStar closure provides the tamper-proof seal for the Polyfoil® tube, which is designed and produced using six-colour offset printing.

The winner in the Prototype Tube category was a tube from the German manufacturer Linhardt providing a clean solution in the true sense of the word thanks to its further advancement of hygiene standards for laminate tubes. Special steriones were developed for the inner layer of the tube laminate; these are organo-metallic molecular complexes that do not damage the actual contents of the tube but drastically reduce the negative impact that bacteria, viruses and fungi have on them. This antimicrobial effect lasts for a period of more than five years during which time the new method avoids the damaging effects of biocides or nanoparticles. The benefits for clients and consumers are obvious: considerably less preservatives are needed in the contents themselves and the shelf life of the product is extended significantly. Moreover, special sterilisation processes or even the use of hot air during filling are superfluous when producing and filling the tubes.

Gregor Spengler, etma’s secretary general, was more than delighted with the results of the competition: “First of all, the high level of participation in our competition is a very good sign. It shows the importance and growing acceptance of the etma awards. I am particularly pleased to see that the participating tubes are distributed fairly uniformly across the aluminium, plastic, laminate and prototype tube categories. This proves that the inventiveness and innovative spirit of the European tube industry is not restricted to individual fields but transcends all markets and applications of the tube.

“Whether it be modern interactive features, hygienic and consumer-friendly dispenser systems, eco-friendly and resource-conserving material savings or technically demanding solutions for even better product protection, etma’s ‘Tube of the Year’ competition has once again confirmed the future viability of the tube as a packaging material in an impressive manner this year. At the same time, it has demonstrated the innovation-driven creativity of etma’s members as an important distinguishing feature in the competitive packaging market.”