Flexible packaging has taken off, but recyclability has been a challenge; one company reportedly has solved the puzzle with a fully recyclable stand-up pouch.
Nestor de Mattos, group marketing director for Food and Speciality Packaging at Dow Performance Packaging, discussed with FoodProductionDaily.com the collaborative effort that led to the creation of a 100% recyclable polyethylene (PE) pouch. He talks about the recyclable pouch’s creation, and how the packaging could help food firms meet sustainability and brand goals.
FPD: How did this recyclable PE pouch come into effect?
Nestor de Mattos: The development of this technology stemmed from a close collaboration initiated in late 2012. A brand owner challenged the Latin America Dow Performance Packaging team and a flexible food and specialty packaging converter in Latin America to develop a technology that could be high performing, strong and recyclable.
Through impressive teamwork, expertise, knowledge and a bit of creativity, Dow and the converter were able to successfully accomplish the brand owner’s request: helping design the 100% PE stand-up pouch.
The requests Dow receives from brand owners are welcome challenges because it forces the company to continue to think outside the confines of the traditional package. These projects help to not only propel our business further, but to push the boundaries of the current packaging industry to places that may not have been conceivable even five or 10 years ago.
What makes the release of a 100% recyclable PE pouch notable?
The pouch delivers a broad range of recyclability benefits. Since the pouch is manufactured using only one material (polyethylene resins), it can be recycled with existing PE bag and film recovery streams.
According to the LCA Analysis via Calculess Environment Impact Analyzer, the 100% PE stand-up pouch offers up to 88% less total material weight, consumes 54% less total energy and allows for up to 90% less post-consumer solid waste when compared to a bag-in-box cake mix.
In addition to its recyclability, the stand-up pouch has aesthetic benefits. Used in a variety of markets, the pouch allows products to sit up on store shelves with a glossy and attractive appearance –one that can stand out against the competition.
Since its launch in May 2013, the stand-up pouch has already gained industry recognition. The Asociacion Mexicana de Envase y Embalaje (AMEE) recently awarded the technology with the Envase Estelar award as one of the most innovative packages in the sustainability category; the pouch was also on display at PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2013’s Showcase of Packaging Innovations.
What are the benefits of using such a pouch for food packaging?
The flexible package can be used for a variety of market applications, including dry and frozen foods. It offers customizable functions including easy opening and closing systems; improved puncture and tear strength; and full and resistant sealing for liquid and fatty foods.
If a brand owner wanted to use the stand-up pouch for a soup line it was debuting, the pouch could be tailored to meet the demands of the product. The pouch could be manufactured with the strength to prevent tears and punctures, and developed with a directionable spout for easy pourability.
With these options, consumers wouldn’t have to worry about making a mess when they go to prepare their soup for lunch.
Why are more food packaging customers migrating their products to flexible?
Flexible packages are strong, high performing and capable of protecting products from the moment they are packaged until they reach a consumer’s refrigerator. Since flexible packages are lighter in weight than traditional modes of packaging, it’s easier to dispose of at the end of its life cycle. It reduces a brand owner’s transportation costs and fuel emissions, giving them the opportunity to haul more packaging units per vehicle.
Here at Dow, we have seen a huge surge in interest around flexible packaging options because the technology addresses current consumer trends. Americans continue to live “on-the-go” lifestyles and they need packaging that is going to accommodate their busy schedules. Many are taking their meals with them as they head out the door and they are interested in healthy, single serve options that are pre-portioned and re-sealable.
Many manufacturing companies, are recognizing this change in consumers’ lifestyles and brand owner’s requests. Many traditional snack and food options, such as salsa, used to be packaged in multi-serving, glass jars. Now the snack item is packaged in individual pouches.
A small flexible package of salsa is safer to carry to work for an afternoon snack and it’s already pre-portioned – eliminating that extra five minutes of scooping salsa out of a large glass jar. As for brand owners, packaging salsa in a small plastic pouch delivers impressive cost savings because it is lighter in weight and easier to transport.
Could you elaborate on why a food firm would choose a stand-up pouch?
One of the biggest concerns we get from manufacturers and brand owners is how do we get our products to stand out amongst our competitors? We aimed to develop a package that not only met all the visual and usability characteristics of traditional multi-material packaging, but excelled beyond that.
Packaging a product in a free-standing pouch gives brand owners increased visibility. While their competitors’ products lie on store shelves with no support to keep their logos from being smashed or with no assurance that their package details are legible, the 100% PE stand-up pouch ensures brand owner’s logos and package details will always be upright, organized and visible.