Tetra Pak has started the worldwide rollout of a stronger but thinner polymer packaging for liquid products, promising companies it will help them cut costs and meet recycling standards.
Rising costs for resin, the petroleum-based materials used for polymer packaging production, along with higher energy prices, have cut into the margins of food processors over the past year.
They also face increasing pressure from EU regulators to meet the bloc's new recycling targets for packaging.
Tetra Pak's new packaging, branded as "Wide", was developed for ambient and roll-fed chilled liquid product packages.
The new material has an inner coating that is stronger and more reliable than the standard packaging format currently produced at Tetra Pak's factories, the company stated.
Even though it is stronger, it is 30 per cent thinner and requires fewer polymers to produce, Tetra Pak said in a release.
Tetra Pak estimates that once all of its factories have converted to the new standard by March this year, it will be able to cut its consumption of polymers by 50,000 tons, equating to about 2,500 shipping containers annually.
"Not only does this reduce the use of nonrenewable resources, it also has a direct and positive impact on the environment in terms of shipping, distribution and energy usage," the company stated.
Wide reduces the energy consumption by 17 per cent and by using less polymers, the percentage of renewable paperboard used in the package is increased by 3.5 per cent, the company claimed.
The company has been testing the packaging in the Australia, Brazil and Japan, stated explains Günther Lanzinger, Tetra Pak's project director for its ambient carton unit.
"We have already produced over 50 billion packages around the globe with Australia, Brazil and Japan leading the way and both manufacturers and retailers are reporting better product performance and more cost-efficient operations," he stated. "For instance, a transportation damage test in Brazil showed zero defects out of 9,000 packages transported on rough roads for 1,200 kilometres."
By March, the new packaging material will be the de facto standard for carton packages and all Tetra Pak factories around the world will be using it, the comapny stated.
Günther Lanzinger, programme director for Tetra Pak ambient carton unit told FoodProductionDaily.com that the new technology will be used for all packages with the exceptions of gable top ones and very limited, special applications. "All-in-all more that 90 per cent of Tetra Pak packages will be converted," he said.
Worldwide, Tetra Pak has 53 production plants producing packaging material covering 165 countries.
The company producers about 500,000 tonnes of packaging material per year.