Paper option increases food packaging sustainability

Skog for Food launched this fall in the U.S. combines FSC-certified paper with double-sided coating that provides barrier properties and permits production on f/f/s machines.

 

For Swedes, “skog” means wood. And for those in the United States as of fall 2017, Skog for Food represents a new paper-based food packaging option for brands that offers sustainable packaging benefits. According to Mondi Extrusion Coatings, Skog for Food saves up to 70% plastic while retaining all the required barrier properties.

Notabloy, the material is engineered to be run seamlessly on all horizontal and vertical form/fill/seal machines. Michael Strobl, managing director, Mondi Coating Zeltweg, tells Packaging Digest that “the only adjustment that may be needed would be require minor such as sealing temperature, but no investments are necessary to run paper instead of plastic.”

Presented for the first time in North America at Pack Expo in Las Vegas in September, Skog for Food combines FSC-certified paper with double-sided coating, giving the bag the required barriers and sealing properties needed for f/f/s machines.

“The new liner complies perfectly with our sustainability strategy,” explains Jan-Willem Kleppers, managing director, Mondi Extrusion Coatings. “Skog is a natural product especially designed to fulfill ecological needs while protecting customers’ goods.”

For added sustainability, the bag can also be coated with Mondi’s biodegradable barrier Sustainex. The coating is derived from renewable sources and fully compliant with internationally accepted standards for biodegradability and compostability and fits into organic recovery, energy recovery and material recycling schemes.

Skog for Food is produced in a Mondi facility in Austria and printed and converted by a partner in Poland.

 

European import and targeted foods

The material has been in use in Europe since 2013, reports Strobl. “Since then, a number of European brand owners and supermarkets have changed part of their portfolio to our paper based packaging,” he tells Packaging Digest.

A windowed version is available from a European partner and has been tested for potatoes.

“We’ve packed up to 20 kg [44 lb] of animal feed pellets using Skog,” Strobl reports. “However, this construction does not have a window. With Skog for Food window packaging, 2 kg [4.4 lb] of potatoes has been tested successfully in windowed skog packaging.”

For conventional packaging, the window is a polymer film, while in the biomaterial version the window material is also biodegradable.

Strobl believes the material is especially suitable for fresh vegetables such as potatoes, onions and carrots.  “On the other hand, a Skog construction without a window and tailor-made barrier would also allow filling of dry and greasy food stuff,” he adds.

The material’s introduction stateside aligns neatly with increased brand interest in sustainable packaging, according to Strobl.

“Most brands in the U.S. have very clearly defined sustainability goals,” he explains. “The timing is great for packaging solutions that help brands achieve these goals while differentiating the consumer’s brand experience. Skog suits the growing niche for sustainable packaging and we’re excited by the initial market feedback.”

Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/paper-option4food-pkg-1711

How to expand recycling of PET thermoform packaging in Europe

What is the state of PET thermoform recycling in the EU and what can brand owners do to help advance it? Sustainability champion Chandler Slavin provides an update.

 

My most popular blog post “How clamshells became recyclable and recycled”  describes the journey of post-consumer PET thermoformed packaging in North America from landfilled in 2009, to collected for recycling in 2013, to recycled in 2015. Today, a handful of reclaimers reprocess post-consumer PET thermoforms into second- or third-generation material and products.

Several months ago, a friend asked me about the end-of-life management of post-consumer PET thermoforms in the European Union (EU). Recently hired by an international consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, he was now responsible for the sustainability of the packaging he put on store shelves around the world. Were PET thermoforms recycled in the EU, he wanted to know?

Petcore Europe is the EU’s NAPCOR. Both associations champion the sustainability of the PET industry and have working groups dedicated to PET thermoform recycling. In October 2017, Petcore Europe released “New Developments in the recycling of PET thermoforms in Europe,” which details the state of thermoform recycling abroad. These developments mimic those undertaken by NAPCOR and its industry partners, laying the foundation for the successful recycling of PET containers in the EU.

 

Supply/demand situation

In America, for a packaging material to be collected for recycling, there has to be “enough” generated in the waste stream to economically justify the collection and reprocessing costs associated thereto. And, there has to be a demand for the recyclate.

In the EU, there are a handful of deposit schemes—Germany, Switzerland, Denmark—and other programs that manage the collection of all plastic packaging via Green Dot fees and other financial contributions.  

According to Petcore Europe: “The market for PET thermoforms is growing as it continues to replace other materials. Currently, the total EU, Switzerland and Norway market for PET thermoforms is estimated to be 1 to 1.1 million tons of PET virgin and rPET, including imports.”

Considering demand, Petcore Europe reports that PET thermoforms is the No.1 end market for post-consumer recycled PET. This demand has reached higher numbers than the PET bottle to bottle and fibers end markets.

According to Paolo Glerean, co-lead of Petcore Europe’s Thermoform working group, the reasons for this are twofold: (1) PET bottle-to-bottle usually requires an additional reprocessing step and, at the price virgin PET reached, the cost of food-grade rPET is more expensive than virgin; and (2) quality hot washed flake is good in the EU and can be used to produce sheets for thermoforming. Consequently, it’s easier and more economical to recycle rPET into thermoforms than bottles.

In 2016, a total of 490 kiloton of rPET was recycled into new thermoforms, which means an average recycle content in PET thermoforms of more than 45%. The report concludes, “The most obvious market for rPET coming from thermoforms is to use them for the manufacture of new thermoforms.”

 

PET reprocessing

When I began PET thermoform recycling research, the intrinsic viscosity (IV) of the material was a concern to some people; that is, it’s “give” or ability to withstand force without cracking. The business-as-usual case was every time the material was recycled and the intrinsic viscosity (IV) was sheared off, thus resulting in a more brittle, lower quality, material.

This concern has since been resolved with the advent of reprocessing advancements. Petcore Europe echoes overcoming this reprocessing barrier: “PET is a type of plastic which can be ‘renewed,’ the loss of mechanical properties caused by processing can be repaired by a recycling process with a poly-condensation step. This step also takes care of the removal of any volatile contaminants in the polymer and makes it suitable for new food contact packaging.”

Thus, technology exists to reprocess post-consumer PET thermoforms into high-quality second- and third-generation lifecycles.

 

Design for recycling

Stateside, the Assn. of Plastics Recyclers (APR) and others developed design-for-recyclability guidelines for PET thermoforms. These look to remove the obstacles to PET thermoform recycling via design considerations, like replacing aggressive label adhesives that compromise the plastic flake cleaning process with approved, for-recycling labels.

The Petcore Europe thermoform working group is doing the same thing. The report isolates the glues used on thermoform labels and soaker pads as two areas for design improvement. In both cases, the glues are not suitable for easy removal at recycling plants.

Thus, potential improvement in recyclability of thermoforms is offered by new combinations of glue/labels on PET trays and redesigned soaker pads. Collaboration is encouraged between packaging designers and recyclers via design for recycling guidelines to produce PET thermoform containers that would not compromise the existing PET recycling processes.

 

Collection, sorting, recycling

Stateside, industry advocated for the inclusion of PET containers in the municipal recycling infrastructure. It had to be demonstrated that PET containers would not compromise the integrity of the PET bottle flake if recycled together, and that thermoform containers could be easily separated from other look-alike thermoforms, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) clamshells.

In the EU, as recycling targets go up, so does collection. Petcore Europe reports, “even in countries where today PET thermoforms are not yet collected, this will happen in the future.”

A large test in France showed that recycling PET trays with bottles can work under certain conditions, though issues with yield were reported. Another approach is to sort all PET trays from bottles, then sort monolayer from multilayer, and develop outlets for the sorted fractions. Dedicated recycling lines for PET thermoforms are under development in Belgium and look to be online in 2018. The Netherlands is collecting and sorting PET trays, but at the moment, there is no buyer for these materials.

In summary, EU developments in PET thermoform recycling echo those executed stateside. From leveraging reprocessing technologies capable of converting post-consumer PET to quality regrind and developing design for recyclability guidelines, Petcore Europe is laying the foundation for PET thermoform recycling. Because several reclaimers now reprocess thermoform/bottle bales in North America, we can hope that Petcore Europe isn’t far from achieving its goal of PET thermoform recycling in the EU.

For international brand owners wanting to aid Petcore Europe’s efforts:

• Encourage post-consumer content in new thermoform packaging. Providing the demand for the recyclate will provoke the supply.

• Work to design thermoform packaging for recycling that doesn’t hinder the existing reprocessing methods used.

These efforts will position PET thermoformed containers for recyclability, allowing for a more circular PET economy.

 

Chandler Slavin is the sustainability coordinator and marketing manager at custom thermoforming company Dordan Manufacturing. Privately held and family owned and operated since 1962, Dordan is an engineering-based designer and manufacturer of plastic clamshells, blisters, trays and thermoformed components. Follow Slavin on Twitter @DordanMfg.

 

Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/how-to-expand-recycling-of-pet-thermoform-packaging-in-europe-2017-11-14

New Veggies to Go offers retailers customizable packaging

Mucci Farms’ new Veggies to Go packs hit the sweet spot for consumers and for the company’s retail customers, offering parents an easy, healthy option for their kids’ away-from-home snacks and providing retailers with multiple package configurations.

The food packaging concept is simple but elegant (see the one-minute promo video above). The basic package is a 9-oz “EZ Snap” package comprising three 3-oz trays that can be snapped apart. The recyclable trays are made of PET.

Film lidding, featuring an easy-open tab, is sealed to the rigid package. Holes in the film allow the produce to breathe.

Retailers can choose to sell the 9-oz package and/or the individual 3-oz packs. For club stores, Mucci offers a tiered package comprising three 9-oz packs bundled with a paperboard sleeve. Retailers can customize the vegetable selection in the packages, choosing from snack-size cucumbers, mini peppers and two varieties of grape tomatoes.

Fernanda Albuquerque, packaging development manager at Mucci Farms, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the new packaging.

 

How did Mucci Farms come up with the Veggies to Go packaging concept?

Albuquerque: Based on market trends, our own market research and feedback from our retail partners, we’ve learned that the snacking and convenience category has been steadily growing across every food category. Up until recently, the snacking segment has been dominated by unhealthy products, so as a company focused on healthy eating, we took on the task of finding a way to offer our snack-sized fruits and vegetables in a convenient, cost-efficient and sustainable package.

The idea began a few years ago, and our original concept was a single bag containing our Sun Drops Grape Tomatoes, CuteCumber Cocktail Cucumbers and Sweet To The Point Pointed Mini Peppers. Due to ethylene that emits from tomatoes, we knew putting tomatoes next to cucumbers would impact shelf life. So it was on our radar to develop packaging that addressed the ethylene issue. The product went on the back burner until top-seal technology impacted the market. Seeing a top-seal package version at a tradeshow allowed us to revisit this project. We realized we could separate multiple compartments while keeping them in the same package. From there, we looked at prototypes offered by a variety of packaging companies, ran a ton of tests for ventilation and shelf life, and we were off to the races.

In terms of pack styles, we develop every product and package with every type of retailer in mind, so having multiple options was a given. Retail supermarkets generally take smaller packs, and club stores take larger, family-sized packs. With this particular product, because we could snap each compartment off, it was easy to offer in individual 3-oz packs, as well.

Please describe the graphics on the lidding of the single packs. Does each 3-oz pack have all required product information?

Albuquerque: This is correct. If retailers choose to buy the 3-oz version, each individual pack will have all the product info and UPC on it. If they purchase the one-unit, 9-oz pack, it’s one single film with info and UPC. For the club pack, the product info and barcode are on the paperboard band.

 

Where is the UPC on each of the package configurations?

Albuquerque: On the 3-oz and 9-oz packs, the UPC is on a label placed on the bottom of the tray. On the club pack, the UPC is on the paperboard sleeve, on the bottom of the band.

 

How do retailers customize the packs? For example, could a retailer put the same product in all three of the 3-oz trays?

Albuquerque: Yes. Retailers can customize the pack however they like. We have a recently launched club pack in which the customer asked for three different commodities but with each packed in the same tray.

 

Are custom-designed graphics required for the lidding film, to accommodate customization?

Albuquerque: No. We have standardized graphics for individual 3-oz trays and a standardized graphic design for the 9-oz tray. For individual 3-oz packs, we use a thermal transfer printer to type out the commodity on the lidding film. Same with the 9-oz tray, based on the product configuration. Because we print the information, we don’t have to order multiple sets of lidding film.

Do you perforate the plastic between packs so it is easy to snap the three-pack into individual packs?

Albuquerque: Yes, the film and the tray are both perforated to provide our EZ Snap convenience.

 

What is the shelf life of the vegetables?

Albuquerque: Seven to 10 days.

 

Please tell us about the holes in the lidding. Are the holes optimized for the type of product in the tray?

Albuquerque: The holes are pre-punched by the manufacturer of the film. They are punched the same way on each unit, as our tests showed that it was the right ventilation for each product. The tray itself is also hole-punched for additional ventilation and for convenience, so consumers can rinse the product right in the container.

 

When did Veggies to Go roll out in stores?

Albuquerque: We’ve been trialing it in a variety of retailers over the past year, but full production started in October. The launch is now underway.

 

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Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/packaging-design/new-veggies-to-go-offers-retailers-customizable-packaging-2017-11-13

Paper pouch-bowl empowers breakfast portability

Gluten Free Bar Power Breakfast in an ingenious paper pouch-bowl adds a major boost of convenience for on-the-go hot breakfasting at work and elsewhere.

 

Gluten Free Bar (GFB), Grand Rapids, MI, has extended its on-the-go healthy snack products into a new meal-time occasion for the brand: a protein-packed breakfast that’s “like oatmeal, but better.” The gluten-free formulation includes oatmeal along with beneficial, flavor-enhancing ingredients such as hemp, flax, fruit, seeds and nuts.

What further separates it from the competition is the proprietary packaging that cleverly marries a standard packet with a paperboard sleeve to deliver a “pouch-bowl” that redefines prepackaged convenience that serves up a hot, healthy breakfast.

The GFB Power Breakfast is available in 5 varieties, Coconut Cashew; Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds; PB+J; Apple Cinnamon; and Maple Raisin, at natural health food stores nationwide with a suggested retail price of $2.49 per 2-ounce package.

“We are stepping outside of the box with this packaging and we think this brings some sorely needed innovation to the oatmeal category,” says Elliott Rader, co-founder and partner at GFB. “We wanted to provide our consumers with a healthy breakfast option without compromising on taste or convenience. Power Breakfast is easy to make at the office, at home or out in the wilderness while camping. We like to say Power Breakfast is like oatmeal…but better…better ingredients, better taste, all in a portable and convenient package.”

The packaging consists of an inner poly-lined packet glued within a wraparound paperboard sleeve that has a foldable bottom gusset. The consumer bends in the sleeve’s ends to reform the packaging as a boxy-shaped bowl. The sleeve has special scores and die cuts plus a bottom panel that unfolds as a platform to support the inner pouch.

GFB’s cofounding partners Elliott and brother Marshall Rader address Packaging Digest’s questions.

Was the GFB Power Breakfast and packaging developed in concert with the recent introduction of Grab-and-Go-Bites?

GFB: The launch of Power Breakfast is separate from the introduction of our Gluten-Free Bites, but the goal remains the same: create fun and flavorful, better-for-you gluten-free snacks that people will look forward to eating!

For Power Breakfast, it is typically sold individually as single pouches. They do come in a 6-pouch carton with a tear-away top that is intended to be used to display them on shelf.

 

Is forward-thinking packaging part of the company’s DNA?

GFB: We started out with a very simple product, gluten-free protein bars. We wouldn’t say that the Bar packaging was particularly forward thinking, but customers really responded to that product and we soon thought about creating that same type of product in a different format and packaging. So, a couple of years after launching our bar products, we launched GFB Bites. We took all the good things about our Bars and put them into a bite-size format in a resealable pouch. At the time, the pouched snack category for protein bites didn’t really exist and we do believe we were a pioneer in terms of packaging in the category.

Whenever we evaluate a potential new product concept, it has to meet certain criteria—great taste, gluten-free, non-GMO, plenty of protein, etc. One of those criteria is innovation in packaging and/or product and we’ve built that into our DNA so that we won’t come out with another “me too” type of product. We think what has driven that is a combination of the competitiveness in the space, but more importantly, consumers have come to expect, and even demand, innovation in food. We’ve seen a rapid rise over the past decade or so of food companies that are innovating and grabbing market share away from the traditional food companies—large companies are just not able to react quickly enough to trends and consumer expectations and we expect to see that continue.

 

Front side view of the packaging that also shows the end creases for folding into a bowl.

What specific consumers are you targeting?

GFB: With all of our products, our first responsibility is to provide fun and flavorful, better-for-you gluten-free snacks to our customers that eat gluten-free out of necessity or choice. Due to cross-contamination issues, oats are a particular concern for those on a gluten-free diet. Power Breakfast is one of the very few “instant oatmeal” products to actually use certified gluten-free oats. Just by doing that we are opening up this market to a historically underserved segment.

Apart from that, Power Breakfast competes in the hot cereal space, with the added benefit of targeting people that will benefit from a more portable solution for instant oatmeal. By adding fruit, nuts, and seeds along with plenty of protein, we believe Power Breakfast is a great solution for anyone, gluten-free or not, that is looking for a better breakfast experience.

 

How did the pouch-bowl idea originate? And which came first, the product or the packaging?

GFB: The packaging actually came first. The breakfast space was an area where our products have always played in, to some degree, but Power Breakfast allowed us to create a product truly geared towards the breakfast space. We believe we are innovating in the “oatmeal category” by creating a better oatmeal, but the packaging truly makes Power Breakfast an innovative product on all fronts.

[Ed. Note: GFB declined to identify the packaging supplier.]

Backside view of the Power Breakfast packaging.

What were the packaging requirements?

GFB: Creating something food safe and durable was our top requirement. Being a Certified B Corp, recyclability is a huge concern for us so we love the fact that most of the Power Breakfast packaging in recyclable. While not a requirement, ease of filling and being able to pack out into cases and making them easy to display in-store are other areas of concern that we are continuing to improve.

[Ed. Note: On-pack instructions inform consumers to discard the inner poly-lined pouch and recycle the paperboard sleeve.]

  

What were the graphics design goals?

GFB: The current packaging design was all done in-house and, like with our other products, we use a fair amount of craft packaging to convey the natural and simple characteristics of our products. Since consumers may not fully understand what the product is, we made efforts to communicate that this still is an “oatmeal” product (we say “like oatmeal but better”).

Another packaging goal was to communicate how to actually use the product (how to open, how much water to add, how to prepare) so our packaging has several areas that address that and we are working to make that information even more clear in future iterations.

 

The paperboard sleeve’s scored gusset that folds open on the package bottom provides structural strength and supports the inner pouch.

Is this easy opening via a tear strip or perforation?

GFB: The opening is via a laser perforation; there’s a heat seal above the perforation.

 

What was the biggest challenge?

GFB: The biggest challenge so far has been in the filling of the pouches. Machinery that can auto-fill this kind of pouch is very limited right now so we’re currently evaluating our options. The other biggest challenge is communicating to customers exactly what this is, but we feel that the unique packaging will get customers to pick it up and figure it out!

Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/food-packaging/paper-pouch-bowl-empowers-portable-breakfast-1711