3 Reasons to Transition to Flexible Packaging

Flexible packaging is no longer the curious cousin of rigid containers. Over the past few decades, flexible materials have proven their mettle in an industry filled with legacy giants such as aluminum, glass, and rigid plastics. As a result, more brands are making the switch for foods, beverages, and many other products. Are you ready to make the change?

If you wonder what is in it for you, here is the short answer:

  • Lower costs
  • Higher sales
  • Better overall performance
  • Greater sustainability and more eco-friendly options
  • Happy users throughout the supply chain

Here is how flexible packaging can help your brand meet the demands of a changing world while getting a stronger foothold in your market.

#1: Store More Product in Less Space

Storage is prime real estate in nearly every business. Whether it is in your processing plant, your warehouse, or with your supply chain partners, the more you can store in a small space, the better. Flexible packaging takes up considerably less space than more traditional rigid and some semi-rigid containers without compromising product quality. The space-saving nature of flexible materials also translates to fewer trips in a transport truck and lower carbon emissions.

That said, maximizing storage is a trade-off if you cannot access the product conveniently. That is another area where flexible materials excel. With a tap, the user can dispense only what is needed without moving the container or putting the freshness of the remaining product at risk.

#2: Reduce Hard and Soft Costs While Meeting Environmental Goals

One of the most challenging accomplishments in any business is balancing environmental goals with meaningful cost reductions. Flexible packaging merges the two in a product that is better than rigid containers. It is a win/win scenario.

Pack World VP Editor, Pat Reynolds, lists some interesting facts about how other businesses are meeting their goals with flexible packaging. Here are just a few of those stats:

  • Production costs drop by nearly 50 percent.
  • Transportation and shipping efficiencies improve by 45 percent.
  • 55 percent of brands that switched to flexible packaging saw better sales figures.
Flexible packaging

Wines and even beers (decarbonated for packing) stay fresh, and so do a host of other products.

#3: Flexible Packaging Works for a Wide Range of Foods and Beverages

“Flexible” does not just describe the physical nature of film packaging. It is also flexible in regard to the types of products it can safely and conveniently contain. Wines in bulk, dry goods such as grains, chemicals, paint, cosmetics, and many other products can all fit conveniently in flexible packaging without worrying about migration, breakage, or contamination.

Flexible packaging is “innovative,” says David Marinac, host of Ditch the Box, at LinkedIn. In consumer-faciing applications, it gives food manufacturers the freedom to design packages that suit the product. However, even when used solely for internal food manufacturing and processing, the variety of ways in which food manufacturers can put flexible packaging to use are astounding.

Nearly every set of statistics reveals the same pattern. Manufacturing and processing brands are switching to flexible packaging because it does a better job on virtually every front. It is customizable, which gives your product better protection against breakage and migration.

It is lightweight and stores more in less space, which maximizes your storage space and transportation budget. It is tough, smart, safe and ecologically sound as well. If your brand wants to step away from the ordinary and into the future with flexible packaging, contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.

How Do FSMA Regulations Impact Your Packaging Choices?

From food growers to packaging companies and transportation providers, everyone in the American food industry is subject to the Food Safety Modernization Act or FSMA. Signed into law in 2011, there is no aspect of getting food to the end user’s table that is not affected in some way. With tighter, more comprehensive regulations designed to protect food from contamination being the new norm, flexible packaging helps you stay compliant proactively.

Test Packaging on the Front End to Help Control Contamination Risks

One of the most prominent features of the FSMA is prevention. It removes food safety risks before they have a chance to materialize. With flexible materials, you have access to rigorous testing before putting any material into your production line. Testing reveals how a flexible packaging film will perform for a specific food product under numerous conditions, from filling to refrigeration (and including heating in the case of cook/chill films).

Understanding the distinct strengths and weaknesses of the material lets you proactively address risks that could result in migration and contamination. It also helps clarify which films react best under certain transportation conditions. Testing helps you select the most appropriate food packaging material or combination of materials and guides other decisions such as refrigeration requirements.

Testing aligns with the partnership and shared responsibility approach of the FSMA. Not only does the act tighten bonds between national and international food safety agencies at every level, it encourages collaboration between food production, packaging, transportation, and retail stores. For example, your choice of packaging helps transportation companies meet their own FSMA Sanitary Transportation of Food (STF) goals.

Flexible packaging

Data from flexible packaging testing reveals the right materials for every individual food product.

Customize Packaging for Unique Foods

Recalling contaminated foods is within the government’s reach, but you know the old saying about an ounce of prevention.  At the packaging level, a customized container is better at preventing food contamination than something that is more of a one-size-fits-most solution. According to Packaging Strategies, flexible packaging design can directly affect contamination risks in a positive way.

Customization is difficult to achieve with some materials. For example, it is costly to produce a unique glass container for several different food products. Flexible packaging offers a choice between numerous films in a nearly limitless range of dimensions and packaging configurations. Packaging production has a faster turn-around time, and it is also more cost-effective.

Flexible materials can easily be designed from the ground up to prevent contamination. There is nothing more proactive than that. Package dimensions, barrier coatings, dispensing taps, and many other choices are possible in large or smaller production runs. The same choices are possible for an enormous range of foods and beverages.

Store in Bulk, Dispense Without Introducing Contaminants

Bulk packaging, such as for oils used in restaurants, trims packaging waste, but it introduces a food safety concern. Once it is opened, air, bacteria, and other contaminants can filter in. Smaller packaging could help, but you would lose the convenience and cost efficiency of storing in bulk. With flexible packaging, you can remain FSMA compliant and still enjoy the cost-saving and efficient nature of bulk packaging.

A dispensing tap transforms a bulk package into a storage plus daily use container without compromising freshness or introducing air, bacteria, or other contaminants. Sauces, beverages, and more viscous foods such as jams can arrive in bulk, dispense on demand, and guard against contamination with a consistent barrier.

One of the smartest iterations of flexible bulk packaging uses an air chamber that expands as the product is dispensed. It helps eliminate product waste. Thick or syrupy foods dispense as easily as liquids because the air chamber forces product through the tap.

The Food Safety Modernization Act takes the onus off one party and distributes evenly across everyone who handles food products in your supply chain. At each level, preventative measures cut contamination risks for fewer incidents of food-borne illnesses and product recalls.

Food packaging has a serious job. It has to contain food without breakage in the warehouse, on a pallet, in transport, and in service with the end user. Each step of the way, there is some potential for contamination that packaging must address. Flexible packaging manages every point of that journey. It is durable, compatible with new sanitizable filling machines, and offers numerous choices in protective films that keep food fresher longer.

To learn more about how flexible food packaging can help you meet FSMA compliance goals, contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.

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.

Want to know more about UN packaging from CDF? Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.

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.

Plastic Economy Report Highlights Continuing Push toward Sustainable Packaging Materials

By 2050, the world’s oceans could have more plastic, by weight, than fish—if something is not done about it.

A coalition of industry players intends to do something about it.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in conjunction with the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Co., has developed the concept of the New Plastics Economy. It is part of a wider, multi-industry, global initiative called MainStream,  which aims to accelerate business-driven innovations and help further the circular economy. Partners in the New Plastics Economy concept include major producers and users of plastic packaging such as Coca-Cola, Danone, Mars Inc., Amcor and Veolia.

Sustainable packaging materials

The MacArthur Foundation debuted the New Plastics Economy in a 2016 report. An updated version, released this year, includes a concrete, comprehensive plan of action that encompasses the complete plastics supply and use chain, in all parts of the world.

“We urgently need to transform global plastic packaging material flows if we are to continue to reap the benefits of this versatile material,” says Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. “This report marks a major milestone, calling out specific actions to capture opportunities for redesign and innovation, reuse, and recycling. It’s now up to us all to get it done.”

The Challenges of a Circular Plastics Economy

The report begins by acknowledging the challenges of establishing a true circular economy in plastics. Only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally, and the cost of collecting, sorting, and recycling packaging usually outweighs the revenues it generates directly.

Sustainable packaging materials

The three ambitions of the New Plastics Economy are Recycling, Reuse and Redesign. SOURCE: The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics

The report identifies several strategies to meet these challenges. Broadly speaking, they are:

Redesign: By redesigning the materials, formats, and delivery models of problematic packaging like small-format packages, one of the greatest obstacles to the New Plastics Economy could be eliminated. Without this, the report estimates, some 30 percent of plastic packaging will be never be reused or recycled.

Reuse: Replacing one-use packaging with reusable packaging could affect up to 20 percent of the total plastics market, the report estimates. Business-to-business packaging has the potential to increase reusable items such as pallets and crates.

Recycling:  Improving the global recycling rate, currently at 14 percent, has the potential to affect fully 50 percent of the plastics market. Doing so will require a number of comprehensive actions, including the initiation of a Global Plastics Protocol among developed nations to “reinforce recycling as an attractive, cost-competitive alternative.” Means to that end include choosing materials, pigments, and additives for maximum recyclability; improving collection and sorting of recyclable materials; and improving the technical capability of recycling facilities.

Food companies are in a unique position to initiate these strategies with regard to ingredients that they buy in bulk.

When they use flexible bulk containers, like bag-in-box or intermediate bulk containers, they can insist that the flexible carriers be designed, or redesigned, as monolayer. This gives them the advantage of using more easily recyclable materials while leaving the challenge of specifying those materials up to their suppliers.

As a business-to-business market, the food industry is especially well-positioned to execute reusability. Rigid reusable packaging for bulk shipments fits well into the closed-loop concept. The problem is that, with many liquid bulk ingredients, reusable bulk containers present issues of contamination. Even when this can be avoided, the energy used to clean and sanitize liquid bulk containers between shipments vitiates the ecological benefits of reuse. Using flexible containers inside rigid, reusable shells confers the best of both worlds: the closed-loop benefits of reuse with the sanitation of single-use food-contact materials.

As for recycling, the food industry can again reap the advantage of the business-to-business market. The biggest challenge in consumer recycling is segregating and sorting loads to ensure that each kind of polymer is processed separately. Because food companies have total control over the loads of used flexible bulk packaging they deliver to be recycled, load contamination is not an issue, and recyclers can process the loads  more efficiently.

Sustainable packaging material

These three distinct transition strategies have the potential to accelerate the shift towards the new plastics economy.  (The percentages are share of plastic packaging market by weight.) SOURCE: The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics

“A new circular plastic paradigm will create great value for business and society,” says Andrew Aulisi, senior director, global environmental policy at Pepsico. “Many actions can be taken individually, but we need collaborative effort to make a meaningful shift.”

In summary, flexible bulk business-to-business packaging, such as CDF’s bag-in-box, Air-Assist products, and flexible intermediate bulk containers, has the potential to incorporate several of the strategies of the New Plastics Economy. They combine the safety and sanitation of one-time use together with the ecological soundness of reusability, and the recycling custody chain is tightly controlled. Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.


Sustainability Checklist Highlights Ways to Reduce Packaging Waste In Processing

The packaging industry, product processing companies, and retailers have a shared duty to protect goods, consumers, and the environment with safe, convenient, and affordable solutions. It is a balancing act because improvement in one aspect of packaging can reduce or improve the effectiveness of another.

Examining the whole life cycle of sustainable packaging materials gives a clearer picture of the choices made and how they interact with each other.

The 2017 Food and Drink Federation Packaging Checklist for Food and Drink Business addresses three high-level categories of packaging and sustainability: functionality, the Three Rs, and transportation. With flexible packaging, everyone in the chain—even the end user—has the opportunity to effect positive change.

Category 1: Packaging Functionality

Functionality applies across the lifecycle of product packaging. At its most basic level, it should be strong; protective against leaks and external contaminants; free from or protective against contaminants within the packaging material that could harm the product or the environment; and easy for every link of the chain to handle, use, and recycle or discard with minimal environmental impact.

Flexible packaging encompasses those fundamental requirements of proactive and ecologically sound packaging as well as broader ones, such as brand appeal and cost effectiveness.

Some of the many benefits include:

  • Testing for ongoing lower materials waste and performance improvement
  • Reduced product waste from breakage and filling errors
  • Scalability
  • Ease of package filling and dispensing
  • Fewer materials
  • Packaging design flexibility
  • Lower transportation costs
  • Lower carbon emissions
Sustainable packaging materials

Every link in the chain can be a sustainability hero.

Category 2: Reuse, Recovery, and Recycling

Reduce, reuse, recycle: those are the basic tenets or Three Rs of waste reduction. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste and food packaging account for nearly half of materials that end in American landfills.

The FDF checklist addresses the Three Rs in two main points:

  1. If the packaging is intended for reuse, is it strong enough and is there a system in place to facilitate it?
  2. After use, can the package be recycled, recovered, or composted?

Not all flexible packaging is recyclable. In some cases, the product it contains prohibits recycling. With multi-layered flexible packaging, recycling may not be possible. However, Packaging Digest says there are several ways to improve.

  • Innovative design
  • Ongoing technology improvements
  • Improved recyclables collection
  • Better materials sorting
  • Expanding the use of flexible packaging to improve recycling value
  • Flexible food packaging might not contain food again, due to FDA purity requirements. But it may be recycled into packaging for another product.

Category 3: Transportation

Transportation by freight truck adds between 60 and 150g of CO2 for every metric ton of goods shipped. That’s according to Time for a Change. Air freight accounts for 500g and trains produce 30 to 100g per metric ton. Smaller, lighter packaging materials reduce transportation needs and costs, which benefits both the environment and the manufacturer.

The FDF checklist asks three important questions:

  1. Does current transportation use efficient routes?
  2. Can vehicles be loaded more efficiently?
  3. Is there a load-share opportunity to make the most use of cargo space?

Flexible packaging cannot improve on routes, but it has the potential to improve load maximization as well as load sharing to reduce waste emissions when incorporated into an overall sustainability plan. With markedly smaller materials that are strong enough to withstand stacking and transport hazards, such as load shifting and bumpy roads, flexible packaging helps meet this part of the checklist. Because it is collapsible, it also reduces transport emissions and costs when it is collected after use.

Through continued innovation and a keen eye trained on the whole life cycle of packaging, sustainability can peacefully coexist with product safety, convenience, and affordability. The FDF says, “A whole chain effort is needed to truly succeed, and we must all make the best use of our resources.” Shared responsibility, from responsible packaging to improved recyclability and low-impact waste, help reduce environmental hazards without compromise.

To learn more about flexible packaging and how it serves as an important component of a total sustainability plan, contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.

 

How Continuing FDA Scrutiny of Food Additives Affects Food Packaging Choices

Additives have always been a tricky part of commercial food formulating, processing, and packaging.

Additives preserve food, enhance its flavor, and improve its color. Without them, many processed foods would not exist in their current form, or at all. But many consumers are leery of artificial additives with hard-to-pronounce chemical names.

Consumer wariness about additives has extended to packaging.

Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, material from packaging that finds its way into food, even in minute amounts, can be considered an “indirect food additive.” As with direct food additives, the packaging manufacturer must show the FDA that “there is a reasonable certainty of no harm” from all food-contact packaging materials.

Addictive Regs a Constantly Moving Target

Unfortunately, this has proven to be something of a moving target, for several reasons. New studies come along showing (or purporting to show) that a packaging component is more harmful, or that it migrates into food in greater amounts, than previously thought. Non-governmental organizations mount media campaigns and petition the FDA to ban packaging components, even in cases where its migration into food is minimal—or even nonexistent.

“The view that the mere presence of, or exposure to, a chemical substance is considered harmful [is] being applied to packaging,” George Misko, a partner with the law firm Keller and Heckman, wrote in Food Safety magazine.

Recent examples of this include:

Bisphenol A (BPA). This monomer is a component in polycarbonates used for beverage containers and in the epoxy resins often used to coat the insides of food cans. In the late 2000s, it was the target of a lot of negative media coverage, sparked by studies from the National Toxicology Program, the Endocrine Society, and others. These identified BPA as an endocrine disruptor that could interfere with the body’s hormones. Some local authorities banned packaging with BPA, and many plastic packaging end users began advertising that their packages were BPA-free.

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)These are used to make paper, paperboard, and corrugated resist grease and moisture. Fast-food boxes, trays, and beverage cups are among the most common end uses. Food packagingAfter studies found that the most commonly used PFC,  perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), was especially pervasive and toxic, the FDA banned its use from most food-contact packaging. A more recent study showed the widespread presence of fluorine, the base chemical of PFCs, in a sample of several hundred pieces of fast-food packaging. The study got major media exposure and led to pressure on major fast-food chains to phase out the use of all PFCs.

“We just don’t know enough about the safety of these new chemicals,” David Andrews of the Environmental Working Group, a co-author of the study, told the Chicago Tribune. “Since there are other options out there, this should be a wake-up call for these [fast-food] companies.”

Infant formula and breast milk packaging. Under a change made in 2013, packagers who want to use a new food contact substance in packaging for infant formula or containers for breast milk must prove its safety to the FDA—a standard stricter than the “reasonable certainty of no harm” for Food packagingcomponents of other packaging. The agency instituted the rule change on the theory that because formula or milk is an infant’s sole source of nutrition, and because of their low body weight, the risk of exposure is up to 70 times greater than for an adult.

Packaging suppliers and end users will have to pay careful attention to such issues. These concerns could constitute a significant advantage for single-use bulk packaging, especially for applications where polycarbonate containers have been the norm.

“As questions continue to arise about the safety of food packaging materials, the food packaging industry will need to have solid science to show that their products are safe, and they will need to effectively communicate this information with government regulators and consumers,” Misko wrote.

Safety in food manufacturing and processing is a priority for CDF. Download our Bag-In-Box brochure to learn more about our safe bag-in-box solutions for food and beverage manufacturers today!

Bag-in-Box Containers: 5 Things You Need to Know

Sustainability in packaging cuts across the entire supply and manufacturing chains. This means that every step in the process must contribute to the sustainability of the finished product, while providing the benefits brand owners want.

Why Flexible Packaging Matters

One of the primary goals of brand owners and food packaging suppliers is zero food waste. To attain that goal requires the use of advanced flexible packaging technology. Bag-in-Box technology is becoming increasingly popular  for liquids such as wine, juices, and other liquid consumer products, as well as for food products such as ice cream and other dairy items.

Flexible plastic packaging for Bag-in-Box applications comes in a variety of thicknesses depending on the requirements of the brand owner, the food producers’ fill lines, and polymer materials to meet specifications. To help food to be more shelf-stable and to last longer when refrigerated after opening, barrier packaging is one of the newest technologies used for flexible packaging applications for food.

Barrier film is a multi-layer film consisting of co-extruded polymer materials such as high-barrier Nylon (Nylon 6 or Nylon 66)/EVOH and PET (polyethylene)/oriented Nylon. Nylon offers excellent clarity and stiffness, and provides a good oxygen and aroma barrier.

Bag-in-Box Makes the Grade

CDF’s Bag-in-Box, a combination of a fiberboard box encasing a polymer inner bag, has proven to be an ideal solution for many food packaging applications. Here are five things you need to know about this packaging:

1. Protection and Lightweight Properties:  Bag-in-Box offers high levels of protection for the contents, both food and beverage, during transportation, while the lighter weight of the packaging combination reduces overall weight of the shipment, saving on fuel costs and lowering the carbon footprint.

2. Food Waste Reduction:  The multi-material barrier layers keep food fresher longer, thus helping to reduce food waste, and are FDA-approved for food contact.

3. Certified as Safe: Bag-in-box flexible packaging offers additional safety for food products. For instance, CDF recently passed the rigorous testing requirements for the design of its Bag-in-Box, receiving the UN Certification for its 20 Liter packaging.

4. Greater Sustainability:  The plastic bag in the Bag-in-Box packaging is sustainable in many other ways as well. Plastic file is energy-efficient to produce. At end-of-life, the Bag-in-Box can be completely recycled through both the fiberboard and the appropriate polymer recycling streams, including the injection molded dispensing nozzles found in liquid dispensing Bag-in-Box applications.

5. Security: Bag-in-box packaging can offer additional security for food contents. For example, with CDF’s Smart Seal Technology, the contents of the Bag-in-Box are secure whether a pillow or form-fit bag is used.

Bag-in-box

CDF’s Bag-in-box packaging makes the grade for sustainability.

Reaping the Rewards of Bag-in-Box Packaging

Flexible bags, which are easily accommodated by automated fill lines, help manufacturers reduce food waste while offering sustainability through end-of-life package recycling. This makes bag-in-box packaging an ideal choice for brand owners and food and beverage producers alike.

With more than 40 years of experience in packaging design and manufacturing, using the latest state-of-the-art polymer processing/extrusion machinery, CDF is a total solutions packaging provider with the know-how to give you the latest technology combined with CDF’s innovative approach to customer challenges. Download our Bag-In-Box brochure to learn more.