Recently we have seen attacks from local authorities and consumers, regarding the ‘green’ credentials of plastic bottles and aluminium cans for beverages. These activities and some market circumstances give unprecedented opportunities for the beverage cans made from paperboard.
The paperboard can is mostly a round container comprised of a body with two ends made from a variety of materials. This packaging format can be produced in many shapes and sizes. The container body is made from paper, and various liner materials to achieve barrier requirements and completed with a printed label for packaging graphics.
What are the reasons that the paperboard can, at this moment, should be the preferred packaging format? Let’s make an analysis.
1. Beverage cans, traditionally made from metal, aluminium or tinplate, as well containers made from PET or glass, have become more expensive due to the increase in prime-material and energy costs over the last years, whereas paperboard prices have remained consistently at a same level.
2. Paperboard cans are favoured by the European packaging laws. The paperboard can is classified as ‘Ecological Favourable Packaging’, a German typification in its “packaging laws”, which add 25 eurocents (a refundable packaging tax deposit) to the price of all metal cans sold.
Although in the USA we don’t see a packaging tax, refundable or not, to protect the environment and stimulate recycling, we see another phenomenon. More and more American municipalities, counties and states are implementing or (minimally proposing) laws which ban (single serve) bottled water in PET. This is obviously only the beginning of a “war” against the existing packaging formats for beverages.
3. To underline the above argument, SIG commissioned the first Europe-wide life-cycle assessment for UHT milk packaging. Before I continue, let’s be clear. There is, basically, no difference between the material-composition of a TetraPak, a SIG Combibloc, an EloPak or a paperboard can from LamiCan Oy.
The life-cycle assessment conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) confirmed that, compared to disposable HDPE and PET bottles, carton packs have a significantly better environmental profile − particularly with respect to CO2 emission, use of fossil resources and consumption of primary energy.
The study concludes that the good performance of the renewable main raw material and the resource-efficient use of materials are the key factors contributing to the carton pack’s positive results.
4. The paperboard packaging addresses the consumer fear for BPA widely used in food and beverage cans. BPA (Bisphenol-A) is a building block for polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins used in linings for metal food and beverage cans and metal closures for glass containers. Physiologically, BPA is said to mimic the hormone estrogen and some studies have linked it to increased breast cancer risk, obesity and other health conditions. Apparently the food and beverage companies don’t have the same concerns as the consumer, as until regulations say otherwise, they will continue to use BPA in their packaging.
For a wide range of products the paperboard can from LamiCan could be an alternative to BPA-containing polycarbonate containers.
5. Wood fibre is under ecological conditions a natural renewable and recyclable raw material. The paperboard packaging is made with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified packaging material. Products carrying the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers that they come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
The above mentioned advantages are sufficient reason to seriously consider the paperboard can as an alternative for beverages. As I have written several articles about TetraPaks and SIG Combiblocs in the past, the topic of this article is the LamiCan paperboard can.
Let’s have a detailed look at the LamiCan paperboard can.
LamiCan paperboard can
The company, LamiCan Oy, manufactures a full range of aseptic paperboard material products which are fully compatible with TBA filling lines. Lamican Oy is a Finnish based company with production facilities in Valkeakoski, with over 10 years of experience.
Lamican packages consist on several laminated layers. The top lid of the can is made from Multilayer Film, Baseboard, Aluminum layer, Tie, Sealing layer. The body is made from Protection lacquer, Printing, Paper, Polymer, Baseboard, Polymer, Aluminum foil and Sealing layer, and the bottom is made from: Baseboard, Aluminum foil and Sealing layer.
This composition translates in a 75% paperboard content.
Manufacturing process of the paperboard can
By feeding pre-printed paperboard from a reel into the machine, the can is formed around a mandrel where, heated by hot air, the side joint is heat sealed.
A reel of the top lid material with the closure tape feeds the die-cutting device. The top lid with the discharge or drinking hole, which is completely sealed with an openable closing tape, is inserted at the bottom of the formed tube. The surface of the seal is activated by hot air and the joint is sealed in the sealing unit. In other words the container is standing upside-down and the can is then forwarded to the filling unit.
The aseptic process is an integral part of the packaging machine. In an aseptic chamber, a precise amount of peroxide steam is sprayed into the can and vaporised by hot air. The sterilised cans are transferred to the product filling stage.
The filling of the can takes place simultaneously in all six lanes in the filling unit through the open bottom of the can. The filling of the can is carried out by using electromagnetic flow-meters to control the filling valves. The container is closed by inserting and sealing the bottom lid to form a tight container. The seals are activated by hot air and pressed closed in the sealing unit.
The machine is equipped with a foam removal system. Inert gas in the head space of the package is used when required.
So far the Lamican paperboard beverage can, offers an alternative aseptic solution for the beverage packaging market. But not only for still beverages, but also for soups, dairy products and many other liquids, such as coffee drinks, alcoholic drinks (less than 22%), wines.
(This is a sponsored article)