As Black Friday passed in the US last month – and in other countries that have adopted the tradition – it signalled the beginning of the festive shopping season and heralded a proliferation of promotional deals to affluent consumers.

A number of packaging companies have also been tempted into deals in recent weeks, with several acquisitions revealed in our online news.

Amcor led the way with a cross-continental play in North America and North China, snapping up Hebei Qite Packaging for RMB185 million (US$28m) and Sonoco’s blow moulding operations for $280m. Hebei Qite manufactures flexible packaging for large domestic customers in the dairy and food segments from its single plant in Hebei (Amcor currently has 11 flexible packaging plants in China), while the Sonoco deal sees Amcor acquire seven manufacturing facilities in North America.

Another US-based flexible packaging supplier, ProAmpac, moved in this month on Vitex Packaging Group, which converts and prints flexible packaging materials. Vitex will retain its brand name and operate under ProAmpac’s Extrusion Lamination division.

The deal bolstered ProAmpac in a month when Wellspring Capital Management agreed to sell the business to Pritzker Group Private Capital for an undisclosed amount. ProAmpac operates 18 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.

The flexible deals did not end there though. Saica Group acquired the Irish-owned Americk Packaging Group of companies, which consists of six manufacturing sites in Ireland and the UK, and US-based packaging component manufacturer Outlook Group was bought by speciality film and bag manufacturer M&Q Packaging Corporation.

Ineos Styrolution made its first acquisition after agreeing to purchase the global K-Resin styrene-butadiene copolymers (SBC) business of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company and Daelim Industrial Company, the current joint venture owners.

Machine vision technology manufacturer Cognex Corporation is aiming to expand its 3D vision capabilities with the acquisition of companies in Spain and Germany: AQSense and EnShape.

Taking us neatly onto the subject of recycling, US-based Plastipak Packaging bought Evolve Polymers (formerly Eco Plastics) from M&A firm Aurelius, which decided to focus all of its plastics recycling activities on its Regain Polymers subsidiary.

The news comes at a time when the average UK household uses 480 plastics bottles a year but only recycles 270 of them, according to Recycle Now. The campaign seeks to inform and encourage the public to recycle more from around the home. Despite this fact, PCI Wood Mackenzie reported this month that collection volumes of PET bottles in Europe increased by five per cent in 2015 to more than 1.8 million tonnes.

Reforming the packaging producer responsibility system was on the agenda last month at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), which detailed four different options on PRN reform. Vanden Recycling was one company that backed the report but urged further thought focusing on the overall compliance costs, audit responsibility and the functioning of the National Packaging Waste Database.

Meanwhile, European Plastics Converters (EuPC), Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) and PlasticsEurope launched the Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP), which is a value chain collaboration tasked with driving Europe’s polyolefins-based packaging recycling efforts. Watch this space for future strategies to be announced by the multi-stakeholder group.

Elsewhere in the recycling world, Suez is partnering with TerraCycle by acquiring 30 per cent of its activities in Europe to develop collection and recycling programmes in Belgium, Finland, France, The Netherlands, UK and Sweden.

The potentially ‘game-changing’ LiquiForm technology, which combines container forming and filling processes into a single-step by using the liquid product to form the container, has a new technology partner after KHS Group entered into a licensing agreement to further develop and commercialise it. KHS already has intellectual property rights in this field and will cooperate with the LiquiForm Group by contributing some of its own patents to the development. Current licensees of the LiquiForm process include Sidel, Krones and Amcor Rigid Plastics.

And finally…

As the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Dordan Manufacturing invited visitors to its booth at Pack Expo Chicago (US) to vote for the easiest ‘easy-open’ clamshell from a selection of prototype designs. The overwhelming winner was the standard ‘control’ clamshell already widely used on the market to protect a product from pilferage at retail. Among the other options, visitors commented on the attractiveness of the two-part clamshell with faux RF-seal but found it difficult to open.

I guess some packaging designs are pervasive throughout society simply because they work.

Steven Pacitti