Packaging Spotlight

Universal Lubricants’ Eco Ultra FlexPak

April 10, 2013

Founded in 1929, Universal Lubricants is a driving force in used oil collection, base oil refining and distribution, and environmental services. Through its Closed Loop Process, the company collects, re-refines, blends and re-distributes its own engine oils and lubricants – never losing guardianship within the chain – to ensure that every quart is of the highest quality for optimal performance. Universal Lubricants is also now a leader in innovative packaging, announcing that its Eco Ultra Synthetic Blend Motor Oil FlexPak, developed in cooperation with Star Packaging Corp., received Gold and Silver awards at the Flexible Packaging Association’s (FPA) annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Ceremony on February 26, 2013. The company’s 1-quart FlexPak received a Gold Award in Environmental and Sustainability Achievement and a Silver Award in Packaging Excellence. 

As the nation’s first motor oil sold at retail in a sustainable, flexible stand-up pouch, the Eco Ultra FlexPak sets a new standard in US motor oil packaging. Compared to conventional hard plastic bottles, the durable, lightweight FlexPak is made with 25 percent less material, and offers consumers a faster, easier and cleaner way to change their oil. It also gives retailers and installers an opportunity to offer their customers a high-performance product in an environmentally responsible package. 

“Our Eco Ultra FlexPak has literally broken the mold in the retail motor oil marketplace,” says Jan Horsfall, Universal Lubricants’ chief marketing officer. “Consumers want to choose products that are good for the environment without sacrificing product quality and performance. Thanks to our partnership with Star Packaging, we have created a breakthrough product that embodies high performance, innovative design and sustainability.“ 

Packaging eco-friendly oil in eco-friendly flexible packaging multiplies the benefits to the environment and to consumers. “It represents eco-innovation at its best and has re-energized the oil marketplace,” adds Nancy Blanchat, director of marketing for Universal Lubricants. “This marriage of a high performance product in an environmentally responsible package also allows consumers to feel good about their purchase, which is another major benefit.”

In all, 127 entries were submitted to the 2013 competition, of which, 25 packages were honored with 29 Achievement Awards for innovative enhancements that integrate consumer trends and needs with technical advancements in materials, graphics, structure and sustainability. 

Star Packaging Corp. produces the package for Universal Lubricants at facilities in Tampa, FL, USA and Atlanta, GA, USA. The tough, three-layer Eco Ultra FlexPak features a pour-spout engineered by Innovative Packaging Network, that prevents the traditional glugs and bubbles from bottles that cause splatters and spills. It has a polyethylene barrier that provides superior burst and seal strengths required for the rigors of oil. A larger, 5.1-quart FlexPak will be available later this year. 

“The decision to introduce re-refined motor oil in flexible packages through retail outlets demonstrates Universal Lubricants’ innovative, out-of-the-box thinking,” Blanchat says. “Our research shows that consumers are attracted to the new and innovative aspects of oil in flexible packaging, which can boost sales for retailers.”

Compared to hard plastic bottles, the Eco Ultra FlexPak requires 68 percent less raw material to make and its smaller size and lighter weight significantly reduces freight costs. One truckload of unfilled FlexPaks is equivalent to 26 truckloads of unfilled rigid plastic containers. Drained and flattened, theFlexPak also greatly reduces landfill waste.

“Universal Lubricants is driven by innovation and sustainability. We were excited about the environmental and operational benefits of flexible packaging as well as in the prospect of being pioneers in this method of packaging oil,” Blanchat says.

Universal Lubricants launched the Eco Ultra FlexPak in October 2012 at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) where it won its first award for Packaging Innovation. The FlexPak also placed among the top three leading innovations in the home and garden product industry in a Fourth Quarter 2012 Innovation Survey on product packaging, and was named one of the Top 10 packages in all product categories for the year. 

Eco Ultra Synthetic Blend Motor Oil is made from high-quality re-refined base stock and blended with premium performance additives. It currently is available for sale at selected installers and service centers throughout the US.

For more on flexible packaging, go to page 50.
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