3 Flexible Packaging Myths Busted

Think you know all about flexible plastics? A lot of myths revolve around plastics, their uses, the effects on the environment and how they stack up against other packaging materials. What you do not know might surprise you.

In the interest of putting a few misconceptions about flexible plastics to rest, read on.

Myth #1: Plastics Leach Dangerous Chemicals into Foods and Beverages

Maybe you have seen one of the chain email hoaxes that have circulated for years. The details vary, but all of them claim that plastic containers, flexible and otherwise, contain DEHA and leach dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals into foods and beverages.

There are several myths rolled into the hoax, says the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA).  DEHA is di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate, which is an FDA-approved plasticizer sometimes used in plastic wraps and other food-safe, flexible and semi-rigid plastic products. DEHA is not diethylhydroxylamine, says CPIA, which can be harmful in contact with food. Further, there is no evidence of a human health risk of using approved plastic food packaging that contains DEHA.

To add another layer of confusion, DHEA (not DEHA) is used in some flexible films such as food wraps. While fatty foods can absorb some DHEA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer says there is virtually no evidence that it is a health risk.

Myth #2: All Substrate Films Perform as a Migration Barrier

There are lots of variables in flexible food packaging and its ability to act as a migration barrier. According to Food Manufacturing, not every polymeric film performs as a barrier, and not every barrier works the same under every condition.

LLPDE or linear low-density polyethylene, for example, is a common barrier film, they explain. While it performs well as a barrier in some conditions, it performs poorly in others. Metallized films might give the illusion of barrier performance, but the reality might be more aesthetic than practical in some applications.

The truth is, the only way to know if any flexible food packaging film will perform as needed is through migration testing that accounts for the food product contained, environmental issues, and other variables.

Flexible packaging

Scientific testing reveals the conditions where any given flexible packaging film performs best.

Myth #3: Performance and Migration Testing is One-Size-Fits-All

A barrier film must be put through its paces under every known condition that it could endure. Only then can you know the strengths and weaknesses of any film used to contain a specific food product.

As an example, Food Manufacturing says the FDA has several factors for testing temperature conditions, some of which include:

  • High-temp at 121 degrees Celsius/250 Fahrenheit
  • Boiling water temperature
  • Hot filled at 66 degrees Celsius/150 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Room-temperature fill and storage
  • Frozen
  • Frozen or refrigerated storage for reheating in the same package
  • Irradiation
  • Cooking at 121 degrees Celsius/250 degrees Fahrenheit

Other migration tests may include the character of the food, such as whether it is fatty, alcoholic, acidic, liquid, or dry. Only after testing a film for its intended use can you know its limitations.

Flexible packaging materials can protect food against spoilage, damage, and migration. They are not perfect and there is no single, broad-spectrum solution, but FDA-approved plastics do not put human health at risk, either.

LLPDE might be exactly what is needed for one food packaging film. For another, HDPE or high-density polyethylene might do the trick. The key is learning the facts about what flexible plastic food packaging contains, how it resists migration, and whether it performs as needed under its intended use conditions. That is why testing is a critical part of choosing the right film for the job.

If your business needs flexible packaging that you can count on for safety and effectiveness, contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure today.

Why UN Certified Packaging Matters

Just like people, packaging needs a passport if it is to travel internationally. In the case of packaging, that passport is a UN number.

The United Nations has standards for packaging that is intended to transport hazardous material, especially across international boundaries. These are carefully calibrated to encompass the standards of major countries and international organizations, like the United States and the European Union. They rate the potential danger of the material being packaged, from extreme (level I) to medium (level II) to less (III). They also take into account factors such as the means of transportation, the distances involved, and loading methods.

UN numbers for packages carrying hazardous material are assigned by certification agencies duly authorized by the United Nations, which apply tests described in Chapter 6.1 of the UN Model Regulations. Individual nations have differing standards for how long they will accept a UN number. In England and France, the duration is five years; in Belgium and Holland, it is unlimited.

Whose Responsibility?

Generally speaking, the manufacturer/shipper of hazardous materials is responsible for transporting them safely. However, in most cases, manufacturers will assign their bulk packaging suppliers the responsibility of conducting the tests required to get a UN license and shipping number. These tests include stacking strength, drop impact, vibration resistance, and water absorption.

Most food products are not considered hazardous materials, but there are exceptions. For instance, bulk powdered products can present a risk of explosion, especially when the material is of high electrical resistance (which allows static electricity to build up). Certain types of edible oils can catch fire if exposed to high temperatures. Even without the question of hazards, meeting UN specs can help assure end users of bulk products, such as food manufacturers, of a package’s strength and integrity.

CDF and UN Packaging 

CDF Corp. has UN certification for its intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) with flexible interiors and its bag-in-box containers, as well as its drum and pail liners. CDF engaged Ten-E Packaging Services, an agency authorized to grant UN numbers as well as certification from the U.S. Department of Transportation, for the testing.

CDF’s bag-in-box and IBCs passed tests for the highest levels of protection for packaging that combines a fiberboard box with a plastic bag. The tests included dropping packages from 47.2 inches on their tops, bottoms, sides, and a corner; stacking them for 24 hours while filled with 669 pounds worth of product; and vibration at 4.1 Hz for one hour. The tests certified that the packages are allowed to carry Levels II and III hazardous material under UN regulations.

Having passed rigorous testing, CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box allows you to transport a wide array of goods domestically and internationally. Download this data sheet to learn more about CDF’s UN-certified bag-in-box packaging and how it will help you keep your business moving.

Yes! Read the UN-Certified Bag-in-Box Data Sheet

Global Growth for Bag-in-Box Solutions Projected

There appears to be no stopping the steady growth of the bag-in-box flexible packaging market, both in the United States and around the world. Although some companies still turn a curious eye to flexible containers for certain products such as beer, bag-in-box containers keep advancing and taking more and more of the packaging market share. These containers might look different, but they make good business sense.

Rigid materials, such as metal and glass, seem more traditional, at least for some products. But flexible packaging keeps winning over more manufacturers and end-users for one important reason: performance. Tradition is good, but high performance in cost reduction, product safety, freshness, and convenience seem to win out in the end for savvy manufacturers.

How is Flexible Packaging Expected to Grow?

The compound annual growth rate or CAGR of flexible packaging should reach approximately 6.5 percent globally through 2024, says Transparency Market Research (TMR). For now, the largest share by far is the food and beverage industries, which includes alcoholic beverages. They account for nearly 60 percent of the market.

Looking to the future, bag-in-box packaging for household and industrial products should grow over the next several years. TMR suggests that gains are expected in these and other areas:

  • Chemicals
  • Acids
  • Cleaning products
  • Water
  • Washing products
  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Cosmetics

Products that have long since adapted well to bag-in-box packaging, such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and liquid food, are also expected to grow. And one beverage manufacturer in Germany has defied the odds with flexible packaging for beer.  Beer is decarbonated for storage, then recarbonated when it’s tapped for drinking. There appears to be very little that bag-in-box flexible packaging cannot do.

Bag-in-box flexible packaging

Flexible packaging is successfully branching out into areas where many thought it could never go.

Which Factors Will Affect the Bag-in-Box Market Through 2024? 

The domestic and global bag-in-box container market is expected to enjoy continued growth through 2024 and beyond. According to TMR, this flexible packaging option is on the rise because it is cost-effective and offers benefits that rigid packaging cannot.

The increasing popularity with product manufacturers, as well as end-users, is rooted in these and other important points.

  • Bag-in-box packaging is appropriate for a wide range of products, including paint, chemicals, cosmetics, wine, and food.
  • Flexible packaging supports purity and protects products against contamination in both directions. The product is less likely to become contaminated from external factors, and the product is less likely to seep or leak.
  • Because little or no air is introduced into flexible packaging while filling and dispensing, products enjoy a longer shelf-life.
  • Both the flexible packaging and the box containers are eco-friendly. Production requires fewer raw materials. Bags are much smaller than their rigid counterparts, and cardboard is recyclable.

What Can CDF Corporation Offer You?

If your business manufacturers or uses liquids, chances are high that there is a bag-in-box option that is suitable for it. From wines to cooking oils and chemical products, this flexible packaging keeps products fresh, controls the risk of contamination, extends shelf life, reduces storage space requirements, and helps keep costs low. It also helps you do lower your carbon footprint.

CDF Corporation provides form-fit and pillow-style bags that work with manual, semi-automatic, and automatic fill lines. There is less product waste, and less packaging sent to a landfill after dispensing. If you need UN-certified packaging, we offer third-party certified bag-in-box flexible packaging that meets Class II and Class III protection.

Bag-in-box flexible packaging makes solid business sense. Manufacturers and food processors love it because it shrinks storage space needs, lowers transportation costs, extends shelf life, reduces waste, and helps meet ecological goals. Consumers love it because it’s smaller, convenient, lightweight, and keeps products fresh.

If you are in the market for a smart and cost-effective way to improve on your current product packaging, download our Bag-In-Box brochure today.

Sustainability in Global Flexible Packaging: What the Future Holds

Sustainable packaging is starting to mature, both in the industry and in the minds of end users. According to Smithers Pira, the packaging market is expected to grow 3.5 percent annually through 2020.

Environmental concerns, corporate responsibility, and end-user expectations are beginning to align. That is good news for the planet and good news for the packaging industry well into the future.

Sustainable Packaging is the New Normal

Sustainable packaging once was a useful, umbrella phrase that differentiated ecologically sound packaging from all of the other choices. Packaging that was not considered sustainable had some immunity from the same level of scrutiny.

The packaging industry has outgrown it as a catchall term in much the same way as most of the world has outgrown specifying between leaded and unleaded gasoline. If you say gas, chances are you mean unleaded. If you say packaging, you probably mean sustainable packaging or you will in the very near future.

According to a report by PWC, sustainability is simply too broad a term to effectively describe the direction that the packaging industry is going. So-called bad packaging is heading the way of the dinosaur, but even that might not mean what you think. The goal is not necessarily to erase but to improve packaging on all fronts.

Sustainability now is about drilling down, learning more, and improving efficiencies, regardless of the packaging in question. Plastics, for example, have taken an ecological beating over the years, but consider how plastics have driven flexible packaging to the front of the sustainability herd.

Authentic Sustainability Considers the Whole Packaging Life-Cycle

Twenty years ago, you might have laughed at the idea that plastic could become a leader in ecological or sustainable packaging. It does not decompose, many said. It clogs landfills for centuries or longer, many said. But a funny thing happened along the way. Packaging manufacturers, environmentalists, retailers, and end-users started to think about the whole life-cycle of packaging as well as the goal of packaging in general.

Flexible packaging uses plastics for liners. However, those plastics contain fewer raw materials than many of their rigid or semi-rigid counterparts. Flexible packaging also weighs less and takes less space, whether it is filled or empty and waiting to be filled. That translates to lower transportation costs, fewer carbon emissions for transport, and even less storage space from end to end.

Plastics in flexible sustainable packaging also offer cutting-edge protection. They can contain chemicals safely with fewer materials. They also improve product safety, protecting spoilables from external contaminants for a longer shelf life.

Sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging is packaging, improved in inventive ways.

Cost is another benefit. Flexible packaging helps reduce costs across every link in the chain. Who would have thought that plastic, not glass, metal, or paper, would be the golden child of the new era in sustainable packaging?

Manufacturers Can Help the Whole Industry Forge Ahead

One of the most important steps manufacturers can take toward sustainability is performing life-cycle analysis, says Pack World.   Depending on how deep an analysis you perform, you will find some influential factors that deal directly with the global impact of packaging materials, but that is only part of the whole. Here are just a few considerations for your analysis:

  • Brand image and alignment with customer/consumer packaging expectations
  • Availability, cost, and environmental impact of raw materials
  • Recyclability (New research is improving the recyclable outlook of flexible packaging.)
  • Equipment and machinery required for production and filling
  • Product waste through filling, breakage potential, dispensing, and shelf life
  • Carbon emissions during packaging manufacture, product filling, transportation, recycling, etc.
  • Energy consumption at all stages of manufacture, use, and disposal

The key now is not embracing any single trend, but finding packaging materials that meet your sustainability goals and refining them for better performance over the long term.

What makes packaging sustainable or environmentally friendly is much more than the volume or source of raw materials or whether or not those materials are recyclable. Now, sustainability considers every stage of the value chain.

How can packaging improve the planet, the lives of workers, the lifestyle of consumers, and the bottom line of corporations? Those are the questions drive sustainable packaging today. Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure to learn more about what flexible packaging can do for your sustainability goals.