Food packaging

Reducing Risk through Proper Testing of Food Packaging Materials

From processing to retail to the consumer’s table, responsible food packaging supports food quality and safety. Regulatory compliance including scrupulous migration testing helps stop contamination in its tracks and keeps food safer throughout every stage of its intended life.

Flexible food packaging plays a growing, rapidly innovating role in the industry. According to Ashland Specialty Ingredients regulatory compliance manager, Joseph A. Spinnato III, at Food Manufacturing, the market share has expanded approximately 4 percent annually since 2010.

With the rush to embrace flexible films for foods and beverages, ongoing compliance and migration testing are vital.

No Flexible Packaging Film is a Universally Failsafe Migration Barrier

Each flexible packaging film in use today has unique characteristics. For example, linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) is a common barrier film, but Spinnato explains that it’s not appropriate for every food product under every environmental influence.

Even some of the common metallized films, he explains, can fail to perform as a functional barrier under the wrong circumstances. The only way to determine performance is through migration testing.

Food packaging

Testing is an ongoing process that evaluates every known migration influence.

Migration Testing Carries Numerous Variables 

Migration barrier efficacy is influenced by numerous factors, some of which are the chemical makeup of the barrier and the food product, the temperature at which the product is stored, and the reaction of the polymer to temperature changes such as heating or freezing. Because products and conditions vary, one test is not sufficient for determining film packaging fitness for use.

Time, temperature, and the type of food contained all influence packaging fitness, says Spinnato in another article on the subject. Each factor can increase migration on its own, in varying degrees under different conditions. Only through migration testing and consistent food packaging regulatory compliance can the manufacturer, retailer, and end user have a reasonable assurance of food safety.

Strict Record Keeping Ensures Consistently Improving Results

If the factors affecting migration are understood, appropriate intervention can prevent food contamination. Compliance and migration testing effectiveness depend on consistent record keeping. With a clear chain of recorded results, manufacturers can spot packaging film performance inconsistencies and trace them to one or more factors.

The SQF Code explains that food packaging materials should never contribute to a food safety risk, and that record keeping enables auditing. Manufacturers that adhere to SQF Certification regulations have a robust record keeping strategy in place.

Consumers are highly engaged with retailers as well as food manufacturers. They prefer flexible packaging and have an acute awareness of contamination issues that compromise food safety. However, well before a food product gets to a consumer, its ingredients and constituent parts are handled and stored in multiple containers, all of which must comply with food safety standards.

Migration can occur with any flexible packaging film under the right conditions, which makes regulatory compliance and migration testing central to food safety now and in the years to come.  Download our food packaging product and pricing brochure and learn how we help mitigate migration through a wide range of food-safe films.

Flexible packaging

The Art and Science Behind Industrial Packaging

What makes flexible packaging such a positive choice? Better performance and product innovation, of course. Industrial packaging has a longstanding relationship with bulky, heavy containers. Perhaps it is difficult to imagine how thin materials can stack up against them. In many cases, the art and science behind lightweight films enables them to outperform their bulkier predecessors.

Flexible, industrial packaging provides workable, dependable solutions for longstanding problems in a cost effective way and with low environmental impact. They’re capturing more and more of the market share, and here’s why.

Forward-Thinking Product Design and Development

Innovation is at the heart of flexible packaging design and development. The goal isn’t just to offer a different packaging option but to create something that performs better on multiple fronts.

Packaging can be a key element in product safety and end-user convenience while fitting into your company’s environmentally-aware policies. How is that possible? The Flexible Packaging Association  (FPA) offers a few facts:

  • Flexible packaging isn’t one thing; it’s many things. Product shelf life is extended and waste is reduced by choosing a film with the correct attributes.
  • It contains more product using fewer resources, which reduces warehouse space and transportation costs.
  • A metal container of comparable size uses 75 percent more energy to manufacture and creates significantly more CO2 emissions.

It can guard against solvent breakdown or product spoilage in a durable material that allows for product agitation and dispensing, all in one environmentally-sound unit. That’s much more than just a container.

Liner Films Address Various Industry Issues

Advancements in film technology make flexible packaging a viable option for industries that might not have considered it before. For example, general-use, low-density polyethylene drum liners combine high tensile strength and elongation with tear and crack resistance. Ultrasonic and heat sealing seam technology supports the integrity and overall performance of the liner.

Anti-stat liners employ an internal anti-static agent to reduce static buildup and dry static cling, which protects flammable materials from accidental ignition. Where high oxygen and water vapor barrier concerns exist, round bottom foil liners provide a form fitting liner with a foil inner layer for high barrier protection and multiple options for product contact surfaces include low density polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester.

These IBC liner options are FDA compliant:

  • Ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH): strong, flexible, transparent and widely-used in the food packaging industry.
  • Flexus™ and Flexus HF metallocene LLDPE: flexible, durable and crack-resistant for general use
  • Tenalon™: abrasion-resistant, strong, durable, co-extruded nylon

Flexible materials are unparalleled in their ability to achieve more with less. They’re overtaking traditional packaging materials on so many different levels that they’re steadily moving toward becoming standard. The FPA says flexible is the “second largest packaging segment in the U.S.”

Flexible packaging

Your positive experiences with flexible packaging help drive tomorrow’s advances.

End-User Factors Shape Today’s Performance and Tomorrow’s Innovation

When sourcing a new, flexible packaging option, the more the manufacturer knows about your needs, the better. Details about the product, in-house manufacturing, and handling processes, as well as site condition factors, help build a comprehensive profile.

This information helps pair you with the right product. If your needs vary, modification and customization, such as special venting or a different fitment location, is often an option. Looking ahead, your information does something more; it helps define the future of flexible packaging.

You might be asked about these and other specifics:

  • Product bulk
  • Whether the product is hazardous
  • Which market the product is designed for
  • Product particle size
  • Product special characteristics
  • Liner or bag type (drum liner, IBC liner, etc.)
  • Liner film, if known
  • Fill method
  • Characteristics of the work area
  • Discharge preference
  • Ideal discharge rate
  • Handling, racking, and transportation methods
  • Regulatory compliance concerns

With these and other details, the manufacturer can provide the best flexible packaging solution today and create a cycle of ever-improving design and technology in the future.

Flexible Packaging Supports Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance issues can be a significant barrier between using familiar packaging materials and switching to an unknown material. However, flexible packaging has a strong reputation as a safe, protective, resilient packaging choice that supports compliance.

Depending on the end-use, flexible packaging in the U.S. must remain compliant with voluminous federal regulations, according to the FPA.

Some regulations include:

  • Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act (FD&C)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
  • Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA)
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
  • Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)

If UN certification is an issue, certain flexible packaging meets UN requirements for containing and transporting hazardous materials that require Class II and III packaging. To qualify, packaging must pass rigorous third-party testing that reproduces the stress and strain of transportation.

Flexible materials also support Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations, the standard for food and pharmaceuticals, and helps facilitate SQF certification.

Decades ago, who could have predicted that film liners and bag-in-box containers could not only compete with, but perform better than, old standards. Food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, chemical, and many other industries have navigated toward a future with flexible packaging.

If you’re ready to learn more about how something new can yield high rewards, we’re here to help. Download our food packaging product and pricing brochure to get started.

5 sustainable packaging trends to watch in 2017

Companies have shifted their attention to packaging and are realizing the importance of sustainable packaging.

A lot of waste comes from disposing packaging, most of the waste ends up in landfills. Because of this, sustainable packaging has gained popularity. Companies are looking into ways to incorporate sustainable materials and practices in their packaging to create less of an impact on the planet.

Here are some of the sustainable packaging trends to look for in 2017

  1. Labeling will get clearer – Make it clear on the product packaging how to dispose of the packaging and clarify if there are sustainability claims. Clear labeling will also help your customers to be better informed. Being honest with customers will go a long way.
  2. Lightweight packaging will be embraced– Lightweight packaging has numerous benefits. Less material is needed to produce packages, manufacturing costs are lower, the environmental impact from transport is minimized and less waste is sent to landfills. The only negative is that when the recovery rates increase, it will remove the value from the recycling stream and undermine the economic incentive to recycle.
  3. Increased use of recyclable materials – The easiest way to ensure packaging has the least amount of impact is by using recyclable materials to manufacture the packaging.
  4. Edible packaging – Edible packaging eliminates packaging waste altogether; you would eat the packaging the product came in. Some of the challenges include: logistical problems like the risk of the packaging material being broken or consumer’s impressions that the packaging is unhygienic.
  5. Packages will slim down – The extra space within the package is creating additional material that needs to be disposed of. The goal is minimal packaging.


Full article:

Source: Beverage Daily

Flexible packaging makers react to polymer price rise

Polymer prices are likely to rise by 10 per cent in the wake of a sharp increase in crude oil prices. This is already prompting flexible packaging material manufacturers to shift to value added products.

“Polypropylene prices tend to move in the direction of crude prices with a lag of about a month. Thus, we estimate at least a 10 per cent spurt in polymer prices in the next four weeks,” said Neeraj Jain, finance head at Cosmo Films.

“Flexible packaging material manufacturers work on a cost-plus model. Hence, a volatility in crude oil prices is completely passed on to the client,” said a senior industry leader.

Operating earnings have dropped for most of the other companies in the flexible packaging segment, due to pressure in commodity films’ gross margins.

The industry had embarked on the next phase of expansion, with the end-user industry driving healthy demand growth; flexible packaging has been seeing a growth wave over recent years in India.


To read the full article:

Source: Business Standard

Wrapping up 2016: Packaging Trends to Watch

Here are some sustainability trends in packaging that we think will gain momentum in 2017:

Multiple uses: Great packaging protects not only your product, but also your brand. But what if the packaging is part of the product itself? That is the case with innovations such as the expandable bowl by Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine. Using 100% bio-based and biodegradable materials, the company created a cellulose wrapper that hugs freeze-dried food and morphs into a bowl when hot water is poured into the spout. The bowl ― a sustainable packaging award winner ― is now in good company and we expect more will follow.

Unconventional materials: Egg shells, fermented sugars, barley, and wheat ribbons. Those were the materials used to create, in turn:

  • Bio-compostable films: Nanoparticles from waste eggshells helped researchers at Tuskegee University in Alabama make a plastic film that is completely sustainable and 700% more flexible than other bioplastic blends. Film made of the new material could be used in retail packaging, grocery bags and food containers.
  • A prototype PHBottle: The European PHBottle project aims to initially create a bottle, cap, and sleeve, although use in other applications (non-food packaging and non-packaging uses) will be tested. The bioplastic material used to make the bottle comes from the transformation of organic matter found in juice processing by-products.
  • Edible six-pack rings for beer: Imagine washing down the six-pack ring with your favorite beer. Although that moment is not quite here yet, the future is looking up for a piece of plastic that is notorious for ensnaring wildlife. The first bio-degradable edible six-pack ring for beer is the result of a partnership between Saltwater Brewery; We Believers, an advertising agency; and Entelequia, Inc., a small startup in Mexico. Made from barley and wheat ribbons spent grain from the brewing process, the rings are safe for wildlife to eat and sturdy enough to support the cans.

Reusable packaging: The throw-away culture is not for everyone. In fact, Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2017 shows 63% of U.S. consumers actively seek out packages they can re-use. More than half of consumers also say they would prefer to buy foods with minimal or even no packaging. With such great demand for waste reduction, innovation is bound to pick up even more momentum.


Full article:

Source: EBN

Top 5 packaging gifts of November 2016

Here are the top articles about sustainable packaging on in 2016, based on page views:


5. Why are pouches becoming the go-to package format?

Have you noticed? It seems like brand owners are putting just about every type of product in flexible packages these days. TerraCycle CEO and regular Packaging Digest contributor Tom Szaky shares a few insights about why in his popular article The ‘pouch-ization’ of the world.

Is it because of better packaging performance? Consumer convenience? Environmental reasons? Yes, yes and yes.

But wait! There will be more because, as Szaky says, “Pouches continue to push enhanced functionality and convenience in excitingly fresh ways.”


4. Is the search for the Holy Grail of sustainable packaging over?

Sustainable guru Nina Goodrich believes we may have discovered the Holy Grail of sustainable packaging. As director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and executive director of GreenBlue, Goodrich knows a significant development when she sees it.

New recyclable barrier films and pouches using Dow’s Retain technology are a pretty big deal. But when you also combine that with up-and-coming high-pressure processing (HPP), food companies can do so much more than improve their environmental footprint.

“I believe that these two innovations combined (package and process) may lead to many new sustainable innovations,” Goodrich enthuses. “This is a huge step towards the circular economy for flexible packaging and a significant opportunity to reduce food waste.”


3. Riding the wave of sustainable packaging

With the new year less than one month old, TerraCycle CEO and regular Packaging Digest contributor Tom Szaky (yep, same author of the No.5 article—he’s on a roll) outlined 4 sustainable packaging drivers in 2016 and many of you jumped all over these hot trends.

Szaky explains why he thought clearer labeling, an appeal to the conscious consumer, a boom in bioplastics and the continuation of lightweight packaging would command your attention this year.

With 2017 looming and new trends to be identified, how do you think Szaky did in calling out the 2016 sustainable packaging trends?


Click here to read the top 2 packaging gifts:

Source: Packaging Digest

Europe to lead green packaging market; bioplastics to flourish

Per Allied Market Research, the recycle content packaging segment is expected to grow with a CAGR of 4.92 percent to reach $207,543 million globally by 2022.

Bioplastic is a new ecological alternative to oil-based polymers with promising growth in pharmaceutical sectors. Bioplastics have flourished in healthcare and pharmaceutical markets and are accepted as an alternative for polymer oil-based products. Reverse logistics and an increase in the number of legislations for ecological packaging techniques have facilitated the recycle of municipal wastes.

The European region is expected to continue to lead the green packaging market, followed by North America. The German green packaging market is estimated at a CAGR of 5.10 percent, while the Middle East region is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.15 percent. The North American and Asia-Pacific regions jointly accounted for more than half of the total 2015 share.

Rise in hygiene and health concerns among consumers boosts the demand for green packaging with applications in sustainable packaging.


To read the full article, click here:

Source: Greentechlead


Who’s responsible for making plastic packaging more recyclable?

In the ongoing discussion about whether manufacturers, material recovery facilities (MRFs) or recyclers should be responsible for the sustainability of plastic packaging, the answer still seems to be all of the above.

MRFs have always had to keep up with an evolving waste stream by adapting to the various shapes and sizes of consumer packaging that end up on their tipping floors. When it comes to plastic packaging — some of which has become lighter and more complex — players from all sides of the supply chain have their own ideas about how to best manage it. The work of reconciling these opinions, while keeping consumer communication as simple as possible, looks to be even more visible in the year ahead.

“We continue to see more and more products in the marketplace that in fact are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle so they become a contaminant in the recycling stream,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).

APR doesn’t believe that brands intentionally design products with inherent recycling challenges, but says it still happens too often. Alexander said that by releasing an updated design guide last year, APR hopes to become more involved in the “embryonic” stage rather than having to find solutions after the fact. He compared retrofitting a package to renovating a house rather than building features in from the start — unintended consequences are sure to come up along the way.

One of the more common examples of this type of retrofitting is what has happened with full bottle or shrink sleeve labels. The labels had been sinking in the plastic recycling process and in many cases this was creating sediment and contaminating material during washing.

Research and engineering company Plastics Forming Enterprise consults with APR, brands and recyclers to sort out the finer details of their packaging challenges through testing. Kristina Hansen, their technical director, has worked on a wide range of adhesives, labels, additives and fillers, and the factors involved in these areas vary. Many of them come back to the need for a cleaner material stream to ensure that recyclers can offer a better product and manufacturers can have higher percentages of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in their packaging.


Full article:

Source: Waste Dive

How supply chains affect packaging

Michael Kuebler, technical director of North America distribution testing at Smithers Pira in Lansing, MI., guides a team of packaging experts who analyze the true impact of the supply chain on a given package.

How should companies weigh performance, cost and sustainability initiatives? Is one more important than the others?

Companies should take a total cost view when evaluating materials, sustainability goals and performance by leveraging high quality predictive tools.  We often see that various operations within a company are functioning in silos with one group focused on cost reduction, another focused on reducing damage and another focused on sustainability objectives. A decision by one group can affect all the others and can also cause an increase in damage rates and non-saleables.

Material reduction savings are quickly lost when the material’s performance is sacrificed beyond what is required to get the products to the consumers in good condition.  Nothing is more costly than shipping a product twice.

In turn, sustainability gains from new packaging materials or packaging material reductions can be quickly lost if the packaging’s performance is reduced past what is required to get the products to the consumers.  Sustainability goals should encompass all inputs, including fuel costs, handling, etc., used to get a product to the consumer.

In order to truly optimize packaging performance, various business functions need to understand the cost implications across the full supply chain, which can be achieved through distribution testing.


Full article:

Source: Food Engineering

Consumer options exist for difficult-to-recycle plastics

Americans generate more than 33 million tons of plastic annually. A recent report by the EPA places the plastics recovery rate at 9%. Why does so little plastic find its way back into the system?

A cause of low plastics collection and capture is consumer confusion. The SPI’s Resin Identification Code was introduced in 1988 for recycling centers to help with sorting plastic waste. Used to identify the plastic resin in an item, the RIC uses symbols that look a lot like the universal recycling symbol, confusing many people to think it’s recyclable, which is often not the case.

Types of plastic accepted at most recycling programs vary greatly and the instructions delineating what is and is not recyclable are often inconsistent. For example, the term “plastic bottle” refers to an item that is understood to be recyclable. In terms of accepted waste, food and beverage plastics, such as soda bottles, are different than household plastics, like cleaning sprays and their trigger heads.

Program language when referring to recyclables (polymers, specifically) can lead well-intentioned people who recycle to place unaccepted plastic waste into the recycling bin—and this causes problems on all fronts. Complicating this issue further for both the consumer and the collection facility are products and packaging comprised of mixed plastic resins and other materials

To read the full article, click here:

Source: Packaging Digest