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Sustainable packaging: a straight swop?

28 July 2019

Food Processing looks at a more sustainable packaging solution to plastic and asks what it will take to convince the food industry to adopt such alternatives. 

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in consumer attitudes which has led to a drive in the development, promotion and use of sustainable packaging. However, it is important that innovative packaging designs do not negatively impact the traditional production and packing processes.

Compostable packaging has come to prominence as a sustainable packaging alternative to plastic. Packaging company Parkside has dedicated a decade of research and development to creating a portfolio of industrial and home compostable paper and film barrier duplex and triplex laminate films under its Park2Nature brand, which is formulated to break down within 26 weeks and have no adverse effect on the environment.

A key part of the development of this solution was to ensure that this new did not hinder the food producers legacy packing process, in an effort to reassure brands that switching to sustainable packaging would in no way compromise productivity levels.

As well as its obvious environmental benefits, compostable packaging can provide a range of benefits in comparison to traditional plastic packaging designs. These include:

Compatibility with current packing lines: A significant issue is whether or not new packaging substrates range can run down existing lines so as not to disrupt production. The compostable laminates range created by Parkside is designed to run on existing horizontal and vertical form fill seal lines, as well as top seal lidding lines with no impact on efficiency or performance.

Reductions in dwell time: Compostable packaging is made from a biopolymer laminate manufactured from sustainably sourced materials. This biopolymer has a very low sealing initiation temperature and hot tack, which can enable packers to reduce their line temperatures and dwell times when compared to running conventional plastic packaging designs. These reductions boost efficiency, reduce costs and create further sustainability advantages.

High speed production: Conventional plastic packaging has been developed over many years to run on high-speed machines. During the development of compostable packaging, it was identified that they can be used on a wide variety of packing lines in an equally efficient way, with minor tweaks to machine settings, and in some cases, they an offer increased productivity over existing packaging materials.

While it is important that as an industry we move forward with sustainability at the forefront of our thinking, it is also essential to consider the effect any change will have on packer and manufacturer when creating new types of packaging. There needs to be a viable benefit to encourage food manufacturers to adopt this new form of environmentally-friendly packaging over traditional plastic packaging.

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