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Home > News > Plastics Applications

A new green plastic food packaging showcase

Source:Adsale Plastics Network Date :2024-05-07 Editor :Rachel Cheung
Copyright: This article was originally written/edited by Adsale Plastics Network (AdsaleCPRJ.com), republishing and excerpting are not allowed without permission. For any copyright infringement, we will pursue legal liability in accordance with the law.

With increasing concern on sustainability and circularity, it is safe to say that the heyday of green packaging is coming. While plastics are a mainstay of the food sectors, packaging providers pursue the trends of offering plastic food packaging that are highly recyclable and compostable.

 

Mono-material continues to be the trend

 

Packaging solution providers have launched more mono-material packaging solutions, which are easier to recycle without compromising high performance.

 

Coveris’ MonoFlex Thermoform, a mono-material solution produced from polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), provides a sustainable alternative for thermoforming packaging in food sectors.

 

This solution offers advanced barrier properties for product protection and shelf-life, as well as strong puncture resistance. It is available fully unprinted or with a printed top film.

 

Another example of mono-material PP-based food packaging is the collaborated project by Mondi and Skånemejerier on ICA’s Hushållsost cheese.


Mondi_350.jpg

The mono-material packaging offers protection and recyclability for Hushållsost cheese. 

 

Featuring mono-material base web and lidding film, the cheese packaging provides recyclable ability with high barriers against oxygen and water vapors, high puncture resistance and great printability.

 

Apart from human food, pet food packaging also leverages mono-material solution to enhance recyclability, such as Adimax’s mono-material PE/PE standup pouch by Plastrela and ExxonMobil.

 

To replace conventional multi-layer structure with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) substrate and PE sealant, Plastrela blends ExxonMobil’s PE and plastomer in both substrate and sealant films with extrusion equipment.

 

In-mold labeling (IML) also utilizes mono-material solution. SABIC partnered with three IML specialists – Taghleef, Karydakis and Kotronis, to produce mono-PP thin-wall container packaging. Further contributing to circularity, the packaging solution uses certified renewable PP resins.

 

The single-step IML technology offers a seamless, integral decoration in injection mold, resulting attractive, efficient and recyclable decorative solution.

 

SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE product portfolio provides certified renewable polymers to Taghleef. The film solution supplier then produces a biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film, a label material for the IML containers.

 

The BOPP label film is then supplied to Karydakis, which delivers high-quality labels pre-printed with captivating designs and branding elements to ensure integration with containers in molding process.

 

Lastly, Kotronis is responsible for the final stage after the IML labels are cut to shape for stacking, facilitating in-mold labeling of containers in a seamlessly integrated and fully automated, single-step process.

 

PCR increasingly adopted to boost circularity

 

Apart from mono-material packaging solution that facilitates recycling, packaging solutions with recycled content are gaining popularity to boost circularity of packaging.

 

Berry Global introduced food-grade low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) flexible films with at least 30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, which are suitable for most food applications. The food-grade films with PCR content have received the US Food and Drug Administration’s letter of no objection for its food-grade property.

 

End-use applications for such films include stand-up pouches, premade bags and roll stock applications for both vertical form, fill, and seal (VFFS) and horizontal form, fill, and seal (HFFS) packaging.

 

The US plastic packaging provider also manufactures 100% recycled PET (rPET) bottles for new luxury artesian mineral water brand NEUE Water. The bottle is designed with unique ergonomic flat shape and sturdy construction.

 

Although the flat shaped bottle challenges manufacturing process, Berry adapted the injection stretch blow molding (ISBM) technology to accommodate the new design.

According to lifecycle analysis, PET has been known as having the best carbon footprint among all packaging materials currently available and is the only food-grade, bottle-to-bottle plastic resin. Other rPET packaging solutions are also launched for different types of beverages, including soft drink and wine.

 

Sidel launched a 100% rPET bottle for carbonated soft drink (CSD) – StarLITE R. The company tackles challenge of processing rPET of which greater variability in rPET resin leads to narrower process window and lower bottle quality.

 

To achieve high-performance rPET bottle base, the new material features an optimized mold base profile and uses an advanced stretch rod and design. New mold base profile allows for perfect material distribution through advanced stretching and a high base clearance for optimum stability. The advanced stretch rod end design improves the preform end-cap material stretching and ensures accurate injection gate centering on the bottle.

 

In addition, perfect combination of grooves and venting holes allows for high-precision base feet formation. The new solution also utilizes dual external and internal bottle base cooling to ensure a perfect shape. Externally, the process uses a mold base cooling circuit that focuses on the warmer bottle base zones and internally a hollow-stretch rod is used which requires no additional air supply.


Sidel_480.jpg

Sidel’s new bottle solution for CSD with 100% rPET resin. 

 

For wine bottle, Amcor Rigid Packaging and Ron Rubin Winery launched US-first premium wine bottle with 100% rPET plastic.

 

Compared to conventional wine packaging, PET wine bottle reduces one-third greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with benefits of 85% lighter in weight and shatterproof.

 

To keep the taste and quality, the rPET wine bottle features Plasmax technology – a thin and glass-like oxygen barrier on the inside of the bottle to prevent the wine from contacting the rPET.

 

Bioplastics applications on the rise

 

At the same time, the use of bio-based materials is expanding to food packaging for easier composting.

For instance, Neste, Mitsui Chemicals and Prime Polymer collaborated to provide bio-based raw materials for a seaweed snack packaging.

 

With Neste’s renewable Neste RE, a bio-based feedstock for polymers, Mitsui Chemicals and its subsidiary Prime Polymer process the feedstock into renewable PP, under the brand name Prasus, which is then turned into food packaging.

 

The packaging made with renewable materials retains the same quality and performance as packaging produced from fossil feedstock, with the additional advantage of carbon footprint reduction during its production. A mass balancing approach is applied to allocate the renewable material to the plastic packaging.

 

The seaweed snack packaging is the first packaging made with renewable plastics via mass balancing that has received the Japanese Eco Mark certification.

 

Another Japanese company, the Mitsubishi Chemical Group, used its bio-based polybutylene succinate (PBS) – BioPBS, in the sealant layer and zipper closure of teabags pouches.

 

BioPBS can undergo natural decomposition by microorganisms into water and carbon dioxide. With exceptional low-temperature heat sealability and flexibility, the bio-based polymer allows extensive applications, primarily as packaging material for food products.

 

Beyond the sealant layer and zipper closure, the whole pouch, including barrier layer, adhesives and the teabags nestled within, are made of compostable materials to drive sustainability.

 

In recent years, coffee capsules are common and popular in household and workplace due to its convenience and outstanding brewing result. However, most of them are single-use and cause waste problem.

 

NatureWorks and Flo SpA partnered to develop compostable coffee capsules with Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer. The thermoformed Ingeo-based capsule is made from annually renewable, plant-based resources which had a Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) of 100%, implying full circularity of the material.

 

Both capsule material and coffee grounds undergo organic recycling, where they are processed into valuable soil amendment that improve soils through carbon sequestration and water retention. The compostable coffee capsules ensure more sustainable option while deliver positive end-user brewing experience at the same time.

 

Avantium’s 100% plant-based and fully recyclable polyethylene furanoate (PEF) is applied to fruit juice bottle, using Avantium’s most advanced technology – YXY Technology.

 

The technology catalytically converts plant-based sugars into furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is the key building block for PEF. Apart from its sustainable packaging benefits, Avantium’s PEF offers superior barrier properties, extending shelf life of beverages and food.

 

This plant-based PEF is used for fruit juice bottle by Albert Heijn, which is the first supermarket chain in the world to introduce PEF packaging for own-brand products.


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