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Title:
IMPROVEMENTS IN PACKAGING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/135095
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed herein is an item of insulating tamper-proof packaging ideally suited as packaging for a biodegradable material. The item of packaging comprises a housing and an inner container. The housing is formed of a thermally insulating material, and has a surface comprising at least one recess adapted to substantially snugly house the inner container. The inner container comprises a base, sidewalls and a rim around the top of the side walls, the inner container being hermetically sealed by means of a closure formed on the rim. A method of making the same is also described. In some embodiments the container is sealed when in housed in the recess.

Inventors:
STEFÁNSSON, Hrafn (Skuggagili 2-202, IS-603 Akureyri, IS)
Application Number:
EP2011/056889
Publication Date:
November 03, 2011
Filing Date:
April 30, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
STEFÁNSSON, Hrafn (Skuggagili 2-202, IS-603 Akureyri, IS)
RAVEN EHF (Skuggagili 2-202, IS-603 Akureyri, IS)
International Classes:
B65B7/16; B65B31/02; B65D81/26; B65D81/38
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005072083A2
Foreign References:
FR2805528A1
FR2840889A1
EP1101711A1
US20050244551A1
US4870800A
US4870800A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LONDON IP LTD (2 Cobble Mews, Mountgrove RoadLondon, Greater London N5 2LN, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims:

1 . An item of insulating tamper proof packaging comprising a housing and an inner container wherein the housing is formed of a thermally insulating material, and has a surface comprising at least one recess adapted to substantially snugly house the inner container, the inner container comprising a base, sidewalls and a rim around the top of the side walls, the inner container being hermetically sealed by means of a closure formed on the rim.

2. The item of packaging of claim 1 wherein the inner container has a modified atmosphere.

3. The item of packaging of claim 1 or 2 wherein the closure is formed of a polymer film.

4. The item of packaging of claim 3 wherein the film is bonded to the rim by means of heat welding, steam or high frequency electromagnetic waves. 5. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the inner container is formed of a plastics material.

6. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the inner container is removable from the housing.

7. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the rim extends substantially perpendicularly from the sidewalls of the inner container so as to form a flange. 8. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the closure is formed when the inner container is housed within the recess.

9. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the housing comprises means to support the rim of the inner container when the closure is formed. 10. The item of packaging of claim 9 wherein the means to support the rim of the inner container comprises a rim-supporting area running circumferentially around the recess.

1 1 . The item of packaging of preceding claim 1 0 wherein the rim-supporting area is raised above the surface of the housing.

12. The item of packaging of any preceding claim further comprising a housing lid to cover the recess housing the inner container. 13. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the housing is substantially formed from expanded polystyrene.

14. The item of packaging of claim 12 or 13 wherein the housing lid is substantially formed from expanded polystyrene.

15. The item of packaging of any preceding claim further comprising means to raise any contents of the inner container above the base of the inner container. 16. The item of packaging of claim 1 5 wherein the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base comprises a plurality of projections located on or formed from the base of the container.

17. The item of packaging of claim 1 6 wherein the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base further comprises a sheet of material supported by the plurality of projections.

18. The item of packaging of claim 1 7 wherein the sheet of material is a thermally insulating material.

19. The item of packaging of claim 1 8 wherein the sheet of material comprises expanded polystyrene. 20. The item of packaging of any preceding claim containing a biodegradable material.

21 . The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the biodegradable material is a comestible product.

22. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the item of packaging has been evacuated by a machine adapted to evacuate the packaging at a rate so as not cause damage to the housing. 23. The item of packaging of claim 22 wherein the machine is adapted by reducing the evacuation rate by restricting the diameter of at least part of one or more evacuating ducts.

24. The item of packaging of claim 23 wherein the diameter has been reduced by between around 90% and 10%.

25. The item of packaging of any of claims 22 to 24 wherein the machine's evacuation rate has been reduced by between around 90% and 1 0%. 26. The item of packaging of any preceding claim wherein the underside of the base of the housing is adapted to tessellate with at least part of the top of a second item of packaging so as to act as a lid or part lid for the second item of packaging. 27. A method for packaging goods in an insulating tamper proof item of packaging comprising the steps of:

a. providing a housing formed of a thermally insulating material, the housing having an upper surface comprising at least one recess adapted to substantially snugly house an inner container; b. providing an inner container comprising a base, side walls and a rim around the top of the side walls; and

c. hermetically sealing the inner container by means of a closure formed on the rim and housing the inner container within the recess; or

d. housing the inner container within the recess and hermetically sealing the inner container by means of a closure formed on the rim. 28. The method of claim 27 wherein the inner container is provided with a modified atmosphere.

29. The method of claim 27 or 28 wherein the closure is formed of a polymer film.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein the film is bonded to the rim by means of heat welding, steam or high frequency electromagnetic waves.

31 . The method of any of claims 27 to 30 wherein the rim extends substantially perpendicularly from the sidewalls of the inner container so as to form a flange.

32. The method of any of claims 27 to 31 wherein the closure is formed when the inner container is housed within the recess.

33. The method of claim 32 wherein the housing comprises means to support the rim of the inner container when the closure is formed.

34. The method of claim 33 wherein the means to support the rim of the inner container comprises a rim-supporting area running circumferentially around the recess.

35. The method of claim 34 wherein the rim-supporting area is raised above the upper surface of the housing.

36. The method of any of claims 27 to 35 further comprising the step of providing means to raise any contents of the inner container above the base of the inner container.

37. The method of claim 36 wherein the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base comprises a plurality of projections located on or formed from the base of the container. 38. The method of claim 37 wherein the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base further comprises a sheet of material supported by the plurality of projections.

39. The method of claim 38 wherein the sheet of material is a thermally insulating material.

40. The method of claim 37 wherein the sheet of material comprises expanded polystyrene. 41 . The method of any of claims 27 to 40 further comprising the steps of: a. adapting a machine to evacuate the item of packaging such that it evacuates the packaging at a rate so as not cause damage to the housing ;

b. evacuating the item of packaging and optionally providing it with an inert gas.

42. The method of claim 41 wherein the machine's evacuation rate is reduced by between around 90% and 10%.

43. The method of any of claims 27 to 40 wherein the goods are a biodegradable material.

44. An item of packaging substantially as described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings.

45. A method of packaging goods substantially as described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Description:
Improvements In Packaging

The present invention relates to improvements in packaging. More specifically the present invention relates to improvements in insulated tamper-proof packaging, and in particular for biodegradable materials.

Comestible products are often required to be transported over great distances and for significant length of time where the freshness, viability and security of the product from bacterial and the like deterioration and subsequent safety of the end consumer are of extreme importance and of great value.

Freezing of the product for long term storage and transportation at very low temperatures is possible and is used for some products, notably comestibles such as beef and lamb for example. However, with a delicate product this often results in the destruction of the cellular membranes and is not suitable for such product particularly where the value is primarily in the sale of fresh product which may command higher market value.

For example fresh fish and particularly shell fish and lobster where the end consumer requires the product to be as fresh as possible and the taste, feel and texture of the product to the consumer should be as close to fresh caught as possible.

Currently fish and shellfish are normally packed for protection and transport into expanded polystyrene boxes or containers commonly referred to in the industry as EPS boxes.

An EPS box or container provides a secure strong and impact resistant container that is thermally insulating. Further, EPS is non-toxic, chemically inert, and non-irritant and rot proof. Fungi and bacteria cannot grow on EPS, it is insoluble in water and is non-hygroscopic.

However EPS contain the ambient atmosphere in which the product is packaged which may contain aerobic bacteria and substantial level of atmospheric oxygen which may spoil the product, the boxes are also easily opened, for example the product may be examined or interfered with or compromised without traceability during transportation or storage phase. Further the product contained within the EPS box may leak out of the box owing to the poor sealing of the EPS lid. EPS material is gas and water resistant but is not 100% water proof, and will not hold gases; given enough time it will leak.

Even further the comestible product may be strongly flavoured or contain oils or liquids which may taint the EPS material making re-use or recycling of the EPS difficult or impossible.

The present invention seeks to address these issues. According to the present invention there is provided an item of insulated tamper proof packaging comprising a housing and an inner container wherein the housing is formed of a thermally insulating material, and has a surface comprising at least one recess adapted to substantially snugly house the inner container, the inner container comprising a base, side walls and a rim around the top of the side walls, the inner container being hermetically sealed by means of a closure formed on the rim.

By both hermetically sealing the inner container and providing it with a snugly fitting insulating housing the shelf life of the contents may be extended.

Preferably the inner container has a modified atmosphere.

By modifying the atmosphere of the inner container prior hermetically sealing it the shelf life of the contents is further extended.

Preferably the closure is formed of a polymer film.

Use of a polymer film provides an economic and efficient way to hermetically seal the inner container. Preferably the film is bonded to the rim by means of heat welding, or fused with steam or high frequency electromagnetic waves. Polymer film may be readily bonded to the inner container by means of heat welding, steam or high frequency electromagnetic waves.

Preferably the inner container is formed of a plastics material. Forming the inner container of a plastics material allows for a lightweight and protective inner container.

Preferably the inner container is removable from the housing. By allowing for the inner container to be removed from the housing, once the item of packaging has been transported the inner containers may be removed for local distribution and the housing may be reused with another inner container. Preferably the rim extends substantially perpendicularly from the sidewalls of the inner container so as to form a flange.

Preferably the closure is formed when the inner container is housed within the recess. Preferably the housing comprises means to support the rim of the inner container when the closure is formed. Preferably the means to support the rim of the inner container comprises a rim-supporting area running circumferentially around the recess. Preferably the rim-supporting area is raised above the surface of the housing. Provision of a rim forming a flange allows for the rim to be easily bonded to a closure when in place in the housing. Provision of means to support the rim simplifies the process of attaching the closure to the container. Preferably the item of packaging comprises a housing lid to cover the recess housing the inner container.

Provision of a lid yet further provides insulation for any contents of the packaging, and also provides additional protection.

Preferably the housing is substantially formed from expanded polystyrene.

Preferably the housing lid is substantially formed from expanded polystyrene.

By forming the housing and lid from expanded polystyrene a lightweight, durable and highly thermally insulating housing is provided.

Preferably the item of packaging comprises means to raise any contents of the inner container above the base of the inner container. Preferably the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base comprises a plurality of projections located on or formed from the base of the container. Preferably the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base further comprises a sheet of material supported by the plurality of projections. Preferably the sheet of material is a thermally insulating material. More preferably the sheet of material comprises expanded polystyrene.

By raising any contents of the packaging off the base of the inner container the shelf life of the contents may be yet further prolonged. The provision of space underneath any contents allows for an area to gather any liquid leaking from the contents and also provides a passage for an inert gas to the bottom surface of the contents. In one embodiment the item of packaging is an item for packaging biodegradable material. Preferably the biodegradable material is a comestible product. Preferably the comestible product is seafood. In one embodiment the housing is formed of expanded polystyrene and the item of packaging has been evacuated by a machine adapted to evacuate the packaging at a rate so as not cause damage to the housing. In this embodiment the machine is adapted by reducing the evacuation rate by restricting the diameter of one or more evacuating ducts.

It will be appreciated that only part of the duct, such as its terminating nozzle need be restricted in diameter to effect a decrease in the rate of evacuation. Preferably the diameter is reduced by between around 40% and 60%. More preferably the diameter is restricted by around 50%.

Preferably the evacuation rate is reduced by between around 90% and 10%. Preferably the underside of the base of the housing is adapted to tessellate with at least part of the top of a second item of packaging so as to act as a lid or part lid for the second item of packaging.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of packaging goods in an item of insulating tamper proof packaging comprising the steps of:

a) providing a housing formed of a thermally insulating material, the housing having an surface comprising at least one recess adapted to substantially snugly house an inner container;

b) providing an inner container comprising a base, side walls and a rim around the top of the side walls; and

c) hermetically sealing the inner container by means of a closure formed on the rim and housing the inner container within the recess; or

d) housing the inner container within the recess and hermetically sealing the inner container by means of a closure formed on the rim.

Preferably the inner container has a modified atmosphere. Preferably the closure is formed of a polymer film.

Preferably the film is bonded to the rim by means of heat welding, steam or high frequency electromagnetic waves.

Preferably the inner container is formed of a plastics material.

Preferably the inner container is removable from the housing.

Preferably the rim extends substantially perpendicularly from the sidewalls of the inner container so as to form a flange.

Preferably the closure is formed when the inner container is housed within the recess. Preferably the housing comprises means to support the rim of the inner container when the closure is formed. Preferably the means to support the rim of the inner container comprises a rim-supporting area running circumferentially around the recess. Preferably the rim-supporting area is raised above the surface of the housing.

Preferably the item of packaging comprises a housing lid to cover the recess housing the inner container.

Preferably the housing is substantially formed from expanded polystyrene.

Preferably the housing lid is substantially formed from expanded polystyrene.

Preferably the item of packaging comprises means to raise any contents of the inner container above the base of the inner container. Preferably the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base comprises a plurality of projections located on or formed from the base of the container. Preferably the means to raise any contents of the inner container above the plane of the base further comprises a sheet of material supported by the plurality of projections. Preferably the sheet of material is a thermally insulating material. More preferably the sheet of material comprises expanded polystyrene.

In one embodiment the goods are a biodegradable material. Preferably the biodegradable material is a comestible product. Preferably the comestible product is seafood.

A specific embodiment will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:

Figure 1 is a perspective top view of a first embodiment of a container for use in accordance with the present invention ;

Figure 2 is a view of the underneath of the container of Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is a view of the side of the container of Figure 1 ;

Figure 4 is a view of a second embodiment of a container for use in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 5 is a view of the container of Figure 4 incorporating a sheet covering the container's base;

Figure 6 is a perspective top view of an insulating housing for use in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 7 is a side view of the insulating housing of Figure 6;

Figure 8 is a schematic side view showing the heat-sealing of the inner container;

Figure 9 is an exploded side view of the arrangement resulting from the heat- sealing of the inner container;

Figure 10 is an exploded perspective view of the arrangement of Figure 9.

Referring to the drawings there is provided a plastic container 1 having a base 2, and sidewalls 3. Container 1 is substantially rectangular in shape, but could be formed in any suitable shape.

At the top of sidewalls 3 is formed hooked rim 4, which comprises lateral projection 1 8 and a hooking lip 19. Lateral projection 18 extends substantially perpendicularly to sidewalls 3 so as to form a flange that overhangs the exterior surface of sidewalls 3. Hooking lip 19 extends from lateral projection 18 in a plane substantially parallel to sidewalls 3. Thus sidewalls 3, lateral projection 18 and hooking lip 19 define a hooking area 21 that may engage with an appropriately formed member.

Hooked rim 4 runs continuously around the circumference of the container as defined by sidewalls 3, and rim 4 thereby defines the opening to the interior of container 1 . Although in the present embodiment the rim runs continuously around the circumference of the container it may be possible in other embodiments for the rim to run intermittently provided that the arrangement allows for closure of the container.

Sidewalls 3 of container 1 comprise a plurality of ribs 5 extending between base 2 and rim 4. Ribs 5 are incorporated in this embodiment of the container in order to provide strength to sidewalls 3, but it will be appreciated that other arrangements may be employed. For example, the sidewalls may be twin walled or smooth walled. Indeed, the complete inner container including the base may be twin walled. Container 1 may be formed from any material suitable to receive comestible products such as thermally formable transparent polyester, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or the like, it may also be formed from cardboard or aluminium foil. Turning to Figures 4 and 5, there is shown a second, and preferred embodiment of a container 6 made for use in accordance with the present invention. Container 6 comprises a base 7, sidewalls 8, rim 9 and ribs 10. However, container 6 also comprises a plurality of projections 1 1 moulded in to base 7. Projections 1 1 are such that they may support a flat sheet 1 2 of substantially rigid material, such as expanded polystyrene.

Thus, when container 6 is to be filled with a biodegradable comestible product, such as fish, a sheet 12 of expanded polystyrene of around 10mm is first laid on top of projections 1 1 . Container 6 may then be filled with fish, and as will be discussed later, the atmosphere of container 6 may be modified with an inert gas and container 6 heat-sealed.

By providing a sheet for the fish to lie on, the sheet being spaced from base 7 of container 6, any excess liquid in the fish may drain under sheet 12 onto base 7, thus extending the shelf life of the fish in contact with sheet 12. Furthermore if the sheet provided is permeable by gas, as is preferable, any inert gas present in the container may penetrate sheet 12 from the side of sheet 12 facing base 7 and thereby act to preserve the fish that directly contact sheet 1 2. Thus in the present embodiment a lightweight expanded polystyrene is used to form the sheet as such a polystyrene sheet is more permeable by gas than heavier weight polystyrene

Turning to Figures 6 and 7 there is shown a housing 13 for a container 1 (or container 6, but for ease of reference only container 1 shall be referred to below).

Housing 13 comprises a base 14, and sidewalls 15. Housing 13 defines a recess 16 that has dimensions that are approximately the same dimensions as the exterior of container 1 . Thus recess 16 is adapted to substantially snugly house container 1 . In some embodiments the receptacle formed in the housing adapted to provide a recess 16 for container 1 may be provided with slightly greater depth than the depth of the container 1 so as to allow a space for ice or a cooling mat to be placed into the housing before container 1 is housed within the resulting recess 16. In these embodiments it is still considered that recess 16 is essentially of approximately the same dimensions as in those embodiments the ice or cooling mat are considered to form part of the housing, thus in such embodiments the container is still substantially snugly housed within recess 16, but the base of the recess is made up of, for example, ice or a cooling mat. Such comments also apply to any space for ice or cooling mats around the sides of the container.

It is important for the security and safety of the inner receptacle that the housing is sufficiently close fitting to provide structural support which, during transportation, provides improved resistance from rough handling and impact damage which may damage the product and or the container.

Thus recess 16 is described as being adapted to substantially snugly house container 1 . However this does not necessitate that recess 1 6 must have a close or touching fit over the entire outer surfaces of container 1 . For example, ribs 5 or other supportive structures (not shown or described) may be formed extending from the inner receptacle to the sidewalls 15 of recess 1 6. In other embodiments ribs or other supportive structures might extend from the sidewalls 15 of recess 16 to sidewalls 3 of container 1 . Thus one or more small air gaps might be found between the sidewalls 3 of container 1 and sidewalls 15 of recess 16.

Housing 13 comprises an upper surface 17. Upper surface 17 comprises a raised portion 20, adjacent to, and running circumferentially around, recess 16. Raised portion 20 is adapted to engage with hooking area 21 and its uppermost comprises rim supporting surface 22. Rim supporting surface 22 is adapted to contact and support the underside of lateral projection 18 of hooked rim 4 when container 1 is housed within recess 16.

Housing 1 3 is formed of a thermally insulating material, in the present embodiment this is expanded polystyrene, but it will be evident that any other suitable material could be used. Turning to Figure 8 and to the sealing of the container with a polymer film 23, in order to prepare the packaging of the present invention such that it is ready for use, container 1 may be filled with a biodegradable material (not shown) and then placed within housing 13. Alternatively container 1 may be placed within housing 1 3 and then filled with a biodegradable material.

As recess 16 is of approximately the same dimensions as container 1 , container 1 is slid into recess 1 6 such that it is slidably disposed therein. Once biodegradable material, container 1 and housing 1 3 are assembled, the combined unit may be placed into a machine which is designed to purge and replace the atmosphere surrounding the product with an inert gas atmosphere and seal polymer film 23 to rim 4 of container 1 by pressing and bonding the film against the upper surface of lateral projection 18.

The construction of a suitable machine is beyond the scope of this application, but an example of a suitable machine can be found in US4870800. Figure 8 shows an item of packaging made in accordance with the present invention having a polymer film 23 bonded to rim 4 by means of a heat press 24 of such a machine.

During this bonding process it should be noted that rim supporting surface 22 of housing 1 3 supports the underside of lateral projection 1 8 of rim 4, thereby allowing heat press 24 to effectively bond polymer film 23 to rim 4 without rim 4 being displaced by pressure applied by heat press 24. In the present embodiment rim supporting surface 22 supports the whole of the underside of lateral projection 18, but it will be apparent that the rim supporting surface could be positioned intermittently around the circumference recess 16 and support only parts of the underside of lateral projection 18.

Prior to sealing the interior cavity of container 1 is purged with an inert gas so as to provide container 1 with a modified atmosphere and hinder biodegradation of its contents. In the present embodiment the resultant modified atmosphere is at super-atmospheric pressure. Evidently in some embodiments container might merely be heat sealed without providing it with a modified atmosphere, but provision of a modified atmosphere is preferable. In alternative embodiments the container might be sealed by means other than heat sealing, such as steam or high frequency welding. If different materials are to be used then other means of sealing such as ultrasonic welding by vibration or bonding using adhesives might be appropriate. After polymer film 23 has been bonded to container 1 , housing lid 25 may be fitted in place and secured by any suitable and appropriate method to close the packaging container for transportation. Housing Lid 25 is formed from EPS, but any suitable material might be used. Housing lid 25 is of an appropriate size and shape to tessellate with upper surface 17 and container 1 when in place in recess 1 6.

Figures 9 and 10 show exploded views of the elements of the final item of packaging (other than the biodegradable material being transported therein).

It is easily understood that during transportation the sealed container 1 provides improved security of the product as any attempt to interfere with the product will require destruction of the protective film lid of container 1 . Further, any leakage of the protective atmosphere is easily identified by the lack of pressure of the inert gas fill of container 1 .

Provision of the inert atmosphere results in greatly extended shelf life of the transported biodegradable material. Once the item of packaging has been transported, container 1 may be slid out of recess 16 for local distribution.

In the present embodiment it was discovered that when evacuating the air in the item of packaging so as to replace the air with an inert gas, when the inner container was in place in its EPS housing, the EPS housing had a tendency to warp or even break. This was presumed to be owing to the gasses contained within the EPS housing not seeping from EPS at the same rate as the evacuation, thus causing a pressure differential. It was therefore necessary to modify the machine, a Promens 51 1 VG tray sealer, by reducing the diameter of the duct of the evacuating nozzles from around 12mm to around 6mm, thus restricting the speed of the evacuation and allowing sufficient time for air trapped in the EPS housing to be evacuated without damage to the EPS housing. Thus the sealing machine was adapted to evacuate the item of packaging at a rate suitable to avoid damage to the housing. The reduction in speed of evacuation from the machine's standard evacuation rate required will of course vary from machine to machine, but it may be that a reduction in evacuation rate of between any of around 90% and 10%, 80% and 20%, 70% and 30%, 60% and 40% or around 50% might be desirable.

If the reduction in the rate of evacuation is effected by restricting the diameter of at least part of an evacuation duct then again the restriction in diameter will vary from machine to machine. It may be that a reduction in diameter of between any of around 90% and 10%, 80% and 20%, 70% and 30%, 60% and 40% or around 50% might be desirable.

Of further importance is the reduction of contamination or taint of the housing, which will enable greater potential for reuse, recycling or saleability of the said box. Currently biodegradable materials such as fish are simply placed within an expanded polystyrene box (namely housing 13 as described in this application) without any inner container (namely container 1 as described in this application). This results in soiling and contamination of the boxes, and results in a great number never being re-used. As such the present invention has significant economic and environmental benefits in that it allows expanded polystyrene boxes to be reused indefinitely by simple washing or replacement of the inner container.

In alternative embodiments it may be possible to seal the inner container before positioning it in the outer housing.

Although the packaging of the present invention is ideally suited to containing and transporting biodegradable materials, such as comestible products, it could also be used for medicine, delicate spare parts, indeed any situation where tamper proofing is desired.

Although in the present embodiment the item of packaging is a stand-alone item having a lid, in some embodiments it may be preferable to adapt the underside of the base of the housing such that it may tessellate with the top of another item of packaging and thus act as a lid. The housing may be adapted to tessellate with only a single other item of packaging and thus provide a lid for a second item of packaging when stacked on top of it. The base of the housing may be provided with at least one recess so as to accommodate at least part of a raised portion found on the upper surface of the housing of an item of packaging.

In other instances one item of packaging may be adapted such that its housing base acts a lid for half of two other items of packaging. In such an instance two items of packaging might form a complete lid for two other items of packaging, the upper items of packaging being rotated 90 degrees to the two lower items of packaging. Many variations are possible.

In the present embodiment the housing comprises a single recess to house a single container. It will be apparent that in some embodiments a housing comprising a plurality of recesses might be employed. In such an embodiment the inner containers used might be sealed before being placed within an insulating housing.

In some other embodiments it may be preferred to form the housing and container as one piece, for example by bonding an inner container inside a housing by adhesive, or by other means of fusion.

Many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described.