5.1 Materials that can be made on site
Some packaging can be made on site by the food manufacturer. The most common examples are cardboard boxes and bags. Large sheets of cardboard are often available as waste from large companies and importers. It is perfectly feasible to cut out such board and make up boxes of the types described in Chapter 3.6, and even outer cases with dividers of the type used for bottles.
The method is simple and involves preparing an accurately cut out shape from a pattern which, when folded will make up into a box of the required size. It is best if the pattern is made from thin sheet metal. The pattern is laid on the cardboard and cut round with a very sharp blade. Next is generally best to lightly score the fold lines. The box is then folded and joints glued, taped or stapled using either retractable anvil staplers or stapling pliers depending on the type of join. Two designs for a two-piece and a one-piece box are shown in Figure 5-1. Making up the pattern does requires a lot of thought. One easy way to design the pattern is to carefully take apart a box of the style required and use this as the starting point.
Hand-made boxes with attractive glued labels can be a good option for small producers who cannot afford to buy large quantities of ready-made boxes.
Various fabrics or textiles can tee cut and sewn into small retail size bags that can be very attractive. Examples include small hessian sacks which are stencil printed for teas, coffees and spices and more colorful fabrics for sweets generally using an inner polythene bag. Such packaging gives 'style' and 'quality' to the brand image and may allow producers to penetrate new, higher-value markets.
Some manufacturers cut out small circles of attractive fabric and use them, tied with a ribbon, to cover the lids of jars of jam to make the product more appealing.
While paper and plastic packaging is not generally re-usable there are occasions in which bags can be made up in house from paper and plastic. In some situations it is possible to obtain used office stationery which can be cut down and glued to make simple bags. If this is planned it should be remembered that printing inks can be toxic and thus not allowed to contact the food directly. Unfortunately where such bags are made there is often a tendency to put the printed side of the paper inside the bag to give a better external appearance; the opposits would be better.
Plastic film off cuts are available from larger companies in some countries. These can be cut up and heat sealed into bags or tubes for packaging foods.
In all cases it will be found more efficient to cut round a pre-made metal template. The work will be quicker and the final bag more uniform in size. When using a template and very sharp blade it is also possible to cut several layers of paper or plastic at a time.
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