This calls for a toast The paper packaging industry’s environmental council (PPEC) has scored a major breakthrough by persuading the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to change its shipping rules for wine and liquor boxes.
Effective immediately, the LCBO will allow its suppliers the option of using the edge crush test (ECT) as an alternative to the burst strength (or Mullen) test that it has used for more than 20 years to assess the delivery performance of corrugated packaging.
“This move is long overdue,” said PPEC executive director, John Mullinder, “and opens the door to producers of recycled board, which is the major Canadian (and global) grade, and becoming more so. The Mullen test unfairly discourages the use of recycled board.”
The Canadian paper packaging industry had become increasingly concerned over the LCBO’s reliance on the Mullen test in recent years, Mullinder noted, especially when the provincial wine and liquor monopoly had started fining its suppliers for not meeting its Mullen specifications. “To our knowledge, the LCBO was the only major wine and liquor retailer in the world still using the Mullen test as a barometer for box failure and/or container breakage. Everyone else had moved to ECT.”
PPEC set up a technical committee two years ago and began outreach to the LCBO, visiting its retail distribution centre in Durham Region to understand the conditions the boxes had to perform under, and inviting LCBO staff to tour various paper facilities (a recycling mill, a corrugated converting plant, and an industry testing laboratory).
The council initiated some pilot laboratory trials using the widely accepted measuring standards of the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA). Various types of boxes and glass bottles were shaken, dropped, and slammed into hard surfaces to see how they performed. A 4-minute video was produced (Shake, Rattle and Drop) and the results shared with LCBO staff.
“Our relationship with the LCBO has been very good,” said Mullinder, “not confrontational at all. We worked through the issues and I think we can both be satisfied with the results to date. We recognise, however, that this door to ECT would not have been opened without PPEC’s efforts, and without the solid technical support we received from member companies.”