Winners of the European Carton Excellence Award 2021 revealed

Europe’s most prestigious carton award scheme celebrated 25 years of cartonboard excellence and announced the winning solutions of 2021.

The judges of the European Carton Excellence Awards 2021 have crowned Durero Packaging’s Bodegas Balsamicas the Carton of the Year.

This year’s winner was announced during the virtual 2021 Carton Awards E-vent ceremony on 6 September, co-hosted by Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard Manufacturers, and the European Carton Makers Association (ECMA).

Bodegas Balsamic is a luxurious gift pack for Bodegas Toro Albalà’s crystal bottle of aged Spanish balsamic vinegar, which was chosen as Carton of the Year for its aesthetic and unique structural design. The entry, made from Holmen Iggesund cartonboard, perfectly conveys the brand’s roots as it opens in a way that resembles a Spanish fan. Additionally, the hot copper stamping inside the pack reflects the carnation flowers native to Cordoba, where the brand is based. The effect of a blossoming flower is accentuated further by embossing on the outside of the pack which mirrors the opening of flower petals.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Awards, a new Champions’ Trophy was presented to WestRock. The carton converter was praised for winning the coveted Carton of the Year title the greatest number of times since 1997, with a total of five wins.

The Innovation Award went to Cardbox Packaging’s Karlo Spoon with cartonboard from Stora Enso. The entry was manufactured in response to the EU’s ban on disposable plastic cutlery, aiming to provide caterers with a sustainable, fully-recyclable solution. Its folded design is highly innovative, creating an extremely robust spoon which can be attached to a product or inserted in a lid.

The Save the Planet award, for a product that significantly reduces or eliminates fossil-based materials, was presented to Graphic Packaging International and BillerudKorsnäs for the PaperSeal® MAP Tray Burger Solution. It reduces the use of single-use plastic by 80%, providing an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional MAP trays. As well as being entirely recyclable, it is made from a renewable resource – cartonboard produced from sustainably managed Scandinavian forests. The worthy winner also maintains function, as the tray is sealed to reduce leaks and contamination, therefore ensuring product freshness.

Food & Drink Virgin Fibre

Graphic Packaging International also scooped a category award, coming out on top in the Food & Drink Virgin Fibre category with its Mergulo Plant Based Butter Carton using MM Board & Paper material. The carton enables the brand to package its products in a way that reflects its natural, sustainable ethos. It is made from recyclable and biodegradable polyethylene-free board, using one-piece construction that optimises sheet usage, reduces waste and is supplied flat to cut CO2 emissions in transit. 

Food & Drink Recycled Fibre

Fruit Basket by MM Neupack and MM Board & Paper won the Food & Drink Recycled Fibre category for its ability to effectively store and carry stoned fruits. The pack is made from flexible cartonboard meaning it can be adapted to fit different fruit sizes and the customer’s individual requirements. It also features integrated round handles to give the appearance of a small basket, while the recyclable solution is creatively designed to allow consumers to see the product from the top of the pack, as well as through the air holes in each side.

General Packaging – Virgin Fibre

Alzamora Group and BillerudKorsnäs’s beautiful GER Coffer entry won the General Packaging Virgin Fibre category. It caught the eye of the jury thanks to its luxurious gold stamping, but the judges were particularly impressed by the unique unwrapping experience that differentiates it from its competitors. The two-piece hexagonal pack opens up to reveal high-end face creams, pushing the products inside forward for easy removal in the process.

General Packaging – Recycled Fibre

Karl Knauer won the Food & Drink Recycled Fibre category for its plastic-free toothbrush packaging made with board manufactured by Weig Karton. The winning solution, made from sustainably sourced and recyclable materials, features an innovative plant-based GMO-free window, giving consumers a good view of the product. Separation of the film from the board is not needed as it decomposes naturally during the recycling process.

Public Award

The entry the public voted the best was Smarties Giant Hexatube by the Champions’ Trophy winner WestRock. The Nestlé pack has a sustainability focus much like last year’s Public Award winner KeelClip™. The new design is made entirely from cartonboard, replacing the plastic cap and plastic shrink seal in the previous Smarties packaging to save the environment from over 100 tonnes of plastic per year. The pack is one of WestRock’s most technically difficult to produce due to high levels of cutting and creasing accuracy, which ensure the product can be filled consistently at high speed in the factory and its tamper evidence function is not hindered.

Platinum and Gold Awards were given to a number of designs that the judges thought were particularly outstanding and deserved special recognition. All the winners of the European Carton Excellence Awards 2021 can be found here:

Tony Hitchin, General Manager of Pro Carton said: “The quality of entries submitted this year was phenomenal. The European Carton Excellence Awards have exceeded expectations yet again and what better year to do so than on its 25th anniversary! All of the packs and solutions entered demonstrate why cartonboard is the material of the future and highlight the important role it will play in helping brands and retailers move towards a circular economy. The Awards make it clear that cartons protect and promote brands as well as the environment, thanks to the structural design and aesthetic finish that can be achieved coupled with the strong eco-credentials of fibre-based packaging.

“It was a pleasure to celebrate a quarter of a century of carton innovation, with live streamed interaction with the winners.  Great to see so many happy people!”  

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Written by Dominy Jones

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