When the european tube manufacturers association, etma, celebrated its golden jubilee at its congress in Istanbul from 10 - 12 June this year, it had good reasons to look back on the developments of the last five decades with satisfaction. In 1959 its founder members only came from Germany and the UK but today 52 companies from 19 European countries are members of etma. The annual production of all etma member companies has risen from about two billion tubes in 1960 to over ten billion in 2008.
A significant factor contributing to the success of etma and of the tube as packaging has been the extremely active role etma has played in the development and updating of accepted European standards for the tube.
"In 2008 we were certainly one of the most active factions involved in the standardisation of packaging in Europe," says Gregor Spengler, etma's Secretary General, "and we will further strengthen our activities in 2009. After all, standards for tubes are not ends in themselves. Besides providing strategic benefits for the tube manufacturer, the standards lead to a higher level of quality overall and improved consumer protection."
Standardised dimensions and materials provide a basis for reliable planning und viable technical developments for tube manufacturers and their clients, filling plants and machine manufacturers. European standards facilitate access to new markets for all of them. However, these competitive advantages are not limited to national or European fields of business. With increasing globalisation, European standards are now of significance worldwide and set standards for the industry that extend well beyond Europe.
Sophisticated and approved methods of testing ensure that tubes are constantly and reliably of top quality and reduce the customer reject rate. This coupled with more efficient production leads to cost benefits, which ultimately also mean more favourable prices for the consumer.
Above all, however, uniform standards for production and quality manifest themselves in a particularly high level of consumer protection. Guaranteed standards of safety that are the most demanding possible increase still further the advantages that the tube already has over other packaging materials, such as its excellent barrier function, the outstanding protection it affords the contents and the fact that it is light, unbreakable, easily resealable and allows an exact quantity to be applied precisely where it is required.
A good example of this is the EN 15384 standard from 2008. It contains two methods for testing the porosity of the internal protective lacquer on aluminium tubes. They both measure every interaction between the tube and its contents. This prevents faulty tubes entering the market and contributes to providing the highest possible level of consumer protection.
And at its golden-jubilee congress this year, etma endorsed a recommendation for plastic tubes. It contains details of the optimal tube dimensions for various filling capacities. etma expects it will lead to further improvements in productivity, which will benefit tube manufacturers, their clients and consumers in equal measure.