Almost $30 billion! What makes “single-material” packaging so hot? What are the best heat resistant and barrier designs from the biggest names?
According to market data forecast report analysis, the European flexible packaging market will grow from USD 28.22 billion in 2021 to USD 41 billion by the end of 2026, at a CAGR of 7.76%. In addition, CEFLEX statistics show that more than 40% of food products in Europe use flexible packaging, using 10% of all consumer packaging materials.
Flexible packaging is the mainstay of the packaging industry. The amount of plastic waste generated by post-consumer flexible packaging is naturally huge, and the value of recycling is difficult and low. Single-material packaging, which is often on the “hot list” of the plastics recycling economy, continues to attract a lot of attention and demand is getting stronger because it can significantly increase the recycling value of packaging, becoming one of the ways in which more and more brands and packaging suppliers are establishing sustainable branding concepts.
The biggest technical challenges for single-material packaging are: heat resistance and barrier properties. The industry is currently addressing the heat resistance of single-material packaging bags through improvements in the performance of raw material resins and processing processes, such as.
Flexible packaging and materials science leader ProAmpac has introduced its latest polyethylene-based film, ProActive Recyclable® R-2000S, to meet the market demand for recyclable packaging that can withstand the demands of a microwave heating environment.
The latest addition to ProAmpac’s iconic range of high performance recyclable films, it fills a gap in the market for microwave-heated packaging for skimmed vegetables, providing superior seal integrity as well as thermal and dimensional stability to withstand microwave conditions.
The film is designed with excellent heat resistance to run on high speed forming, filling and sealing machines and is able to meet the growing demand for green packaging without compromising machine performance, print quality or customer convenience. In addition, the polyethylene based films also offer optimum ink protection and ideal stiffness for enhanced storage in freezers.
ProAmpac has already launched frozen food packaging for human and pet food applications, dry food packaging and more. These innovative products are helping brands meet their sustainability commitments while providing consumers with the sustainable packaging they need.
As for the barrier issue of single material flexible bags, a number of innovative solutions have emerged.
Unilever: Oxygen and vapour barrier properties of fragrance bag sets
Unilever Japan and Toppan (Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.) have developed a Lux Luminique fragrance pouch set, a sachet-style packaging design using a single material, PET film that is easier to recycle, for launch in Japan in the first half of 2021.
The material was chosen by Unilever and Toppan (Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.) after continuous quality testing, and comes from Toppan Printing’s GL Barrier range of films.
Traditional disposable plastic bag packaging combines a PET base material with materials such as aluminium and polyethylene. However, the most significant feature of this single-material PET flexible bag is the use of PET-grade GL film, a vapour-deposited transparent barrier film from the GL Barrier range, which can be combined with PET sealant.
The manufacturing method and materials ensure a strong oxygen and water vapour barrier with a low adsorption capacity, preventing loss of aroma and quality and increasing the shelf life of the product.
The all-PET construction of the Lux Luminique fragrance bag set not only improves the recyclability of the soft bags, but the de-aluminised film reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 25% during the packaging manufacturing process.
Mondi: replacing aluminium foil with an innovative high barrier film
Mondi, a global manufacturer in the advanced packaging sector, introduces RetretTouch recyclable single material retort packaging for a range of food and wet pet food applications.
Typically, moist or semi-moist food products are heat-treated in steam or hot water distillation packaging containers for sterilisation, hence the need for steaming packaging for these foods.
These packages use more aluminium foil as a barrier layer and are difficult to recycle. mondi has developed an innovative high barrier film alternative to aluminium foil that maintains high temperatures during the distillation process and enables shorter handling times. The new single-material retort packaging is fully recyclable, providing an exceptional shelf life for single-material packaging solutions and reducing potential food waste.
Mondi spent more than two years researching and testing the product to ensure it met important application requirements. As part of its commitment to sustainability, the launch of RetortTouch recyclable products is another step towards Mondi’s goal.
In early 2021, Mondi is creating three sustainable packages for food manufacturer Orkla’s new range of vegetarian products. Primarily used for Orkla’s tortilla, tortilla chips and taco spice products.
● Tortillas are the first food packaging from Mondi to use its “BarrierPack Recyclable” solution. The packaging is made of a single material with high barrier properties and is lightweight. The sealed tape maintains the freshness of the food and extends its shelf life.
To maintain the crispness and freshness of the corn chips, Mondi has used a metal-free high barrier laminate, which makes the new packaging solution completely recyclable. This packaging also prevents the leakage of oils and fats inside.
Bost: AlOx barrier and solvent-free adhesive solutions
BOBST, a Swiss supplier of packaging equipment and services, is launching its “Generation 2.0” high-barrier flexible packaging solutions in the second half of 2021, designed to replace multi-material packaging structures with a single material structure, while meeting the requirements of multiple applications in terms of processability, barrier and optical properties.
“Generation 2.0” includes new ultra-high and high-barrier all-polypropylene laminate bags, which are available with a clear AlOx (aluminium oxide) barrier and a solvent-free barrier binder/finisher. The all-polypropylene laminate bags are also available with UV flexographic printing using digital inkjet printing.
In addition, Generation 2.0 also includes all-low density polyethylene laminate bags and MDO-PE laminate bags, which are available with high-barrier solvent-free adhesives for excellent barrier performance.
LDPE laminate bags are supplied by Dow with the raw material PE resin.
EMSUR: all PE and PP construction adapted to multiple product types
Flexible packaging group EMSUR has launched the EM Full RFlex range of packaging, based on a single material base of PE and PP, thus replacing the traditional multiple construction and providing excellent barrier and sealing properties to the packaging.
The new laminated bags are aimed at a wide range of FMCG categories, including snacks, confectionery, coffee and tea, fresh and processed foods, as well as home and personal care, and are designed to improve recyclability and food preservation performance.
In addition, the flexible packaging range will be available in clear and printed films with different glossy and matt effects for gravure and flexo printing.
Amcor: Laminated film packaging with barrier properties comparable to aluminium foil
Amcor has developed a range of sustainable and recyclable laminated film packaging products that can be used in a wide range of applications in the health industry, including oral liquids, oral solids (granules, powders, herbal formulations, etc.) and healthcare products.
The packaging is based on a single or pure PO material, using cutting edge material science to increase the barrier properties of the packaging to an end result comparable to that of an aluminium laminate.
The packaging is 100% sustainable and recyclable, with 44% less carbon emissions and 70% less water consumption than traditional aluminium laminate products. The packaging can also meet the requirements of some oral liquids that require post-sterilisation.
The ⭐ does not contain aluminium foil material, which avoids the potential safety risk posed by metal clips that can be metal detected by the customer after packaging.
Regal Packaging: Single-material high-barrier HDPE hose
▲Regal Packaging’s APR certification letter
Mr Wang Mingsheng, General Manager of Regal Packaging, said: Regal Packaging has been deeply involved in China’s dental industry for more than ten years and is committed to developing a wide range of environmentally friendly hoses, including MONO single material recyclable hoses, PCR (post-consumer recycled particle) hoses, paper-plastic hoses, bio-based hoses and biodegradable material hoses.
Nanhai Lida: all PE, all PP bags
At present, Foshan Nanhai Lida Printing & Packaging Co., Ltd. generally adds EVOH or PVA to achieve the barrier requirements, as long as the amount added does not exceed 5% of the total thickness of the film; it can be recycled together, for example.
The total thickness of the laminated film is 100um, and then the amount of EVOH added is about 5um, such a structure, after testing, its oxygen permeability can reach 8cc or less.
Nanhai Lida’s single material solution to replace BOPA/PE is BOPE/EVOH/PE.
The outer layer is made of temperature-resistant and stretch-resistant PE for printing, and the laminate layer is made of high stiffness and good strength material to ensure the flatness and strength of the bag. The types of bags that can be made are three-side-seal, stand-up zip bags and suction nozzle bags. These bags mainly receive foreign orders and have been invested in foreign markets, mainly for packaging dry food, dry goods, fresh frozen food, daily necessities, and light packaging.
● Nanhai Lida full PP pipette bag with 100% PP construction.
● Temperature and shrinkage resistant outer layer, low temperature heat seal and impact resistant inner layer, suitable for hot filling and refrigeration, high barrier suitable for dairy products packaging.
● The weight of the package contents is 70~150g, and the bag type is upright bag with nozzle, four side seal with nozzle bag.
Due to the temperature resistance, production efficiency is too low, this type of bag is currently only small batch testing, and not for market applications.
3D Neopac: 23% reduction in thickness of single material tubes
3D Neopac, a global supplier of cosmetic and healthcare tube packaging and part of the Neopac Group, is introducing a new tube line to expand its production capacity and upgrade its on-site manufacturing technology with two flexographic lines.
3D Neopac has adapted the ecological design of its tube products. 3D Neopac has reduced the wall thickness of its COEX and SpringTube product ranges by up to 23% (up to 35% for the co-extruded version), and its flat extrusion design is said to produce precise layer thicknesses. While maintaining its important barrier properties and aesthetic aspects. Its diverse decorations offer a wide range of design and customization possibilities, eliminating the need for labels through low migration, environmentally friendly direct printing on a single material structure.
Building on this, in the near future 3D Neopac will be launching other SpringTube products, including a new lightweight HDPE slim flip-top. At 3D Neopac, the barrier tubes and other components are manufactured in-house – an advantage that significantly eases supply chain issues.
Hershey’s Kisses: recyclable PE bags for milk chocolate
A sustainable packaging solution developed in-house by Constantia Flexibles, one of Europe’s largest flexible packaging companies, recently won the Dow Award for Packaging Innovation 2021.
Constantia Flexibles and Hershey India have joined forces to launch recyclable single-material packaging for Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate, Hershey India’s latest product, Milk Chocolate.)
Constantia Flexibles offers a more sustainable barrier packaging solution for this milk chocolate packaging. It is a single material polyethylene (PE) laminate solution designed to be fully recyclable in the PE recycling system, while meeting all the functional and aesthetic requirements of the product. In addition, the packaging does not change the current production process and has no adverse impact on product integrity/shelf life. It also takes enhanced tear resistance to maintain the structure and shape of the packaging throughout the supply chain.
After looking at so many single material structured packages, it turns out that high barrier properties play such an important role!
Now a single environmentally friendly structure in the PVA coated barrier film and EVOH barrier layer is used more, for some dry food, daily chemical products, water and oxygen resistance is basically comparable to the traditional multi-material packaging, but the shelf life of food will be shorter than conventional composite packaging, and the cost is also higher than ordinary packaging more than 20% ~ 30%.
For oil barrier, light barrier, chemical resistance and other issues, a single structure of flexible bags barrier effect is still limited, so it is difficult to be widely used in all food packaging.
Despite this, food and beverage brands, packaging materials companies are very enthusiastic about the development of a single material, and continue to break through the technical bottleneck of a single material. It is believed that under the “double carbon” goal and sustainable development, single material packaging will be widely used in the future.