Yesterday was Earth Day, so let’s have a look at sustainability first, before we take a look at the latest developments in packaging material.
Consumer goods companies, which push so-called ‘green’ products, be they foodstuffs or household cleaning supplies, into the marketplace, have to realise that that introduction has to go hand in hand with sustainable packaging. And sustainability isn’t always synonymous with degradability or compostability.
Consumers are more familiar with recyclable than with degradable packaging, as they know exactly what to do with old newspapers, magazines, bottles and cans and they pay a deposit for beverage containers without complaint. They know that there’s a mature, efficient global market designed to feed the demand for recycled materials and the production of recycled products.
In contrast, the reuse of degradable materials currently faces the negative effects of the absence of an infrastructure for their collection. The end-user unfamiliarity with degradable packaging material and the lack of knowledge of this matter in municipal circles result in degradables finding their way to landfills specifically designed to prevent decomposition, while decomposing facilities often refuse to accept degradable packaging material.
For the contemporary consumer sustainability isn’t any longer simply a part of his lifestyle. It’s an important choice he feels he can make to protect the environment for the sake of future generations. The cool factor increasingly associated with all things green, especially among Millennials, Gen-X and not to forget Gen-Z, should show the consumer goods companies clearly where the growth opportunity lies.
Note: The above market insights I took from a report of L.E.K. Consulting. If you want to read the full report “Green is Good: The Revolution in Sustainable Packaging”, you can download it here or click the image at the right (pdf-file).
So, with this second article about developments in packaging material I want to see whether packaging material companies really meet the consumer request of sustainability.
Let’s have a look.
Ovenable tray skin films
At the recent Anuga FoodTec in Cologne/Germany Sealpac laid out the future of TraySkin film by claiming that, although still very new, the first ovenable tray skin films are coming out onto the market now.
A growing trend today is ‘no-touch cooking’, purchasing something and then eating it straight from the pack. People don’t like to touch food such as seafood, fresh poultry and meat and tend to purchase convenience products that supply a no-touch cooking potential.
A benefit of skin film is the shelf life extension, especially on fresh products because it uses a vacuum process to create the skin. With skin in a microwave or in an oven there is no need to pierce the pack, in the way the consumer had to puncture holes in the top of the film when the first microwaveable materials came to market. Furthermore with the old microwaveable films half of the product was heated whereas half remained frozen so the consumer had to cook it twice. In contrast skin builds up pressure inside and then a vent opens to let go of the pressure.
Because the skin film has a secondary seal the food processor can create a meal as the consumer would like to see it on his plate. A lot of ready meals today with MAP are covered in a broad paperboard sleeve with a picture to show the meal. With skin the consumer can see the product exactly how it looks on the plate.
In the sealing process, the atmosphere is almost completely withdrawn from the pack. Due to the highly transparent and tight-fitting film, the contents of the pack are perfectly visible and tangible. For peeling away the skin film, consumer-friendly opening peel tabs are incorporated
Plex EdgePull induction seal liners
A new tamper-evident, induction seal liner has been developed to provide packaging with protection and easy-opening functionality.
EdgePull induction seals from Tri-Seal require low peel force to remove. The seals also peel cleanly, which means no adhesive residue/strings to contaminate the contents after opening.
Further, the pull tab is designed with enhanced strength to resist delamination from the rest of the structure when removed by consumers.
The liners are typically used with closures ranging from 28 to 63 mm and are ideal for a wide range of narrow and wide mouthed containers that benefit from a tamper-evident device.
EdgePull PPE has been engineered for use with dairy and nutraceuticals polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) containers, while EdgePull Universal targets multiple bottle types (PE, PP, PVC and PET) using one liner material across all products.
Both induction seal materials feature a multilayer structure. The induction seal pull tab is printed with arrows indicating to the consumer in which direction to pull to facilitate an easy removal.
Battelle Mondelēz LTA
Mondelēz partnered with Battelle to develop a new packaging reclosure as an economical replacement to zippers and other reseal technologies. Called Low Tack Adhesive (LTA), the product only sticks to itself when simply pressed together, but with high enough bond strength to provide a secure yet easy-open reclose feature.
Developed for snack food packaging, LTA has far-reaching applications for dry goods. Because LTA sticks to itself and nothing else, packages might be less messy without the product inside clogging or interfering with the reclosure feature.
One little hitch, though, Low Tack Adhesive has not received food-contact regulatory clearance yet.
According to the companies, LTA is cost effective to manufacture and apply. The adhesive can be pre-applied to a variety of packaging films using conventional printing and coating technologies. It is then ultra-violet (UV) cured. Films with LTA applied can be run on existing packaging machines with little to no modifications and at existing line speeds.
Research company Battelle claims that unlike traditional Pressure Sensitive Adhesives, the new Low Tack Adhesive (LTA) is not messy, tacky or expensive. It won’t pick up crumbs from crackers or cookies that make traditional adhesives ineffective.
The developers of the technology believe LTA can be customized for a variety of applications needing higher strength as a cost-effective alternative to traditional hook and loop closures.
Barex non-crystalline film
Rollprint Packaging Products’ Exponent films combine high barrier, clarity, and chemical resistance to create materials that can hold even the most corrosive chemicals, including nicotine. The high-performance sealant, a co-extruded non-crystalline polyester, is designed to replace Barex for chemically-sensitive applications.
Exponent 2 is ideal for applications requiring exceptional barrier and clarity. With oxygen and moisture barriers available down to 0.0008 cc/100in2-24hrs, and 0.0008 g/100in2-24hrs respectively, the all-polyester Exponent 2 can be used for the most sensitive applications providing cost savings and recycling opportunities when compared to traditional foil structures.
Toray Bio-Based Lumi Lid Film
The new LumiLid bio-based, dual-ovenable lidding films are manufactured with Toray‘s proprietary sustainable resin blends, which are made with more than 50% renewable feedstocks. Bio-based LumiLid films were created to lessen the impact on the environment, as they use fewer petroleum resources while they are being manufactured, and to meet the needs of environment-conscious end users and consumers. In addition, like all LumiLid films, these are solvent-free and may alleviate end-users’ concerns about solvent retention, as well as enhance the films’ sustainability profile.
The new LumiLid films are designed for frozen, wet and dry food, and dairy applications. They are FDA-compliant for use with oven temperatures of up to 400°F (200°C) for 30 minutes.
LumiLid bio-based films have the same performance qualities that are characteristic of the LumiLid brand. They have a low seal initiation (SIT), broad seal range, outstanding seal integrity, and an easy peel. They are available in clear, white, and metallized formats.
So, these were the most recent developments in packaging material.