The trend that overshadows everything else nowadays is eco-friendly optimisation. It is about time that everyone starts to think on these terms.
In the first place, we need to remember that one of the best ways to protect the environment is to package foods correctly. Food waste is enormous in countries that lack modern packaging solutions, and this pollute significantly more than the packaging material itself.
Packaging materials account for 1.7 % of the world's total carbon footprint, while automobiles account for 14%. The construction and fishing industries account for the largest share of plastic materials reaching our shores.
We are not saying this to downplay the adverse effects of packaging where pollution is concerned, but we do want to put things in perspective.
There are many good environmental solutions and products on the market today. This is especially true for packaging that does not have a shelf life (such as shopping bags, fruit bags etc.) which are easily manufactured using materials that are entirely bio-based or bio-degradable.
There are fewer solutions available for zero-emission solutions where shelf-life packaging is concerned. Many large companies are working hard to find suitable solutions, so we expect to see changes in the near future. Maskinpakking wants to be among the first to use these solutions.
The best solution for long shelflife products today is to use monofractions, which means using the same type of material in all layers of a package. OPP is a good example of such materials. Combining packaging materials – particularly the use of aluminium as a layer – are very poor solutions.
In Norway, metallised film/foil has made it to the list of not recommended materials, while most countries consider this a minor problem. Metallisation provides an excellent barrier in relation to added amount of metals.
We prefer to offer EVOH or Siox in our film, instead of metallisation. This provides an excellent barrier against oxygen migration and we do not need metal in this process. EVOH and Siox are poorer choices where light and moisture are concerned, but this is seldom a problem.
We are working hard to contribute in a positive way while we wait for the market to offer optimal solutions. Good filling degree, optimised pallet solutions and eliminating as much film as possible in relation to product weight/quantity are also important goals.
We should mention a solution we use for packaging walnuts. Walnuts were once packaged in metal cans in the United States. The lid was aluminium and it had an extra plastic lid on top. It also had a paper label on the can.
We replaced this with a pouch covered with a layer of film on the inside that is partly built up of paper with EVOH, to keep the walnuts fresh as long as possible (which is important for the environment!). We use a zipper to make it user-friendly. The bags are flushed with nitrogen (main constituent in air) to displace oxygen and prevent oxidation of the food. This provides optimal shelf life. Our solution is much more eco-friendly than the American solution.
We would also highlight our carton-based solutions. We are one of the few manufacturers that offers carton packages without inner pouches (double packaging). We always use materials that are approved as a food contact material. We are experts at degree of fill, easy opening and display solutions. Overall, this is an optimal product.
You might consider whether this is a good solution for your products!