Welcome to Bargain Packaging.co.uk

This website is designed to provide your the information you need to know on packaging; perticularly in plastics packaging. Whether complete beginner or expert we hope you'll find our information as valuable resource.
For many years plastic packaging have been the nearly universal choice to protect products from dirt, dust, moisture and contamination of all kinds. They are inexpensive and available in an almost infinite range of types, styles and sizes.

The site is the best place to find the very latest news in plastics packaging and to buy plastic packaging at bargain prices.....

Definition of Packaging

The wrapping material around a consumer item that serves to contain, identify, describe, protect, display, promote, and otherwise make the product marketable and keep it clean.

Background on Plastics Packaging

Packaging: I looked the term it up in a couple of online dictionaries. In my opinion, none of the definitions truly represent what packaging is today nor did they address where we would be without it.

With all the flurry of activity around the plastic bag and water bottle bans at airports, I thought it was time to reiterate the positive role packaging plays in modern society. The role of the package has changed over the years from functioning as a simple container to becoming an integral part of our society. Yet most people aren't aware of the package's important aspects or don't understand how it works. They just know that it exists especially when they perceive it as a problem.

I just participated in a discussion thread that came about from an article entitled "Common Ways to Waste Your Money." Surprise, surprise. Packaging was on the list (bottled water too) of wasted money ventures. I'm not sure who came up with the list but it contained 19 different items ranked in no particular order. I couldn't resist reading what people were saying about the "lowly" package.

The vast majority of the discussion thread on packaging revolved around all the bad things that packaging supposedly adds to the waste stream, over packaged and excess packaging materials, difficulty in opening and so on. One thing was clear; these people haven't a clue about what packaging really does for us. The responses were almost comical as if the very products we use appeared magically at the store ready to be purchased, free of all encumbrances (the packaging) and pristine and pure in every regard.

These people need to get real! One person was ranting and raving about bacon and why it is packaged the way it is. I'm not sure how she expects to have bacon available for purchase without the packaging. Perhaps she lives on a farm where they butcher hogs and she can line up at the slaughter house each morning. But what about the other 95% of us that don't? We shop at the market and expect it to supply what we want, when we need it.

I'm not going to expound in depth on all the "real" things packaging does, but think of the primary responsibilities of the package. On the "short" list: It protects, conveys or transports the product so that it arrives undamaged or unbroken. It educates or tells us what is inside and what to do with it. It sells or persuades us to buy it. It makes it easy for us to use or consume it. Remember, that's just the short list.

Now let's look at the issues that arise without the role the package has to play: Broken or damaged contents (smashed potato chips and broken crockery). How many servings are there? What temperature do I cook it? Where and how do I plug it in? How do I put it together? Will it color my gray, help me lose weight quickly, or attract the opposite sex (just kidding)? Can it be cooked in the microwave? What's for dinner, Ipod anyone?

Now who's real? Sorry to say but there are some real idiots out there. Sure packaging contributes to the waste stream, and yes some things are overpackaged or hard to open but think through your day from the time you get up to your last bedtime snack. How many of those things could you use, do or accomplish without packaging?

So think before you rant. Understand before you condemn product packaging as the bane of your existence. You can't have a product without a package. Most importantly, packaging is our friend.

Plastic Packaging offers many possibilities to package food, beverage, cosmetics & toiletries, household and pharmaceutical products.

A plastic in Packaging is the perfect tool to achieve Sustainable Development. Different plastics offer different qualities, giving manufacturers and consumers the freedom to choose the type of plastic that best suits the application. Plastics can be rigid when protection is needed, or flexible for convenience's sake. They can be clear or opaque. And they can be molded into a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Plastic packaging provides excellent protection for the product, it is cheap to manufacture and seems to last forever. Plastic packaging is an important aspect of product presentation from storage and display to safety compliance. Plastic packaging is widely used in food and beverage industry, health and beauty company, household and industrial chemicals industry, agricultural industry and many more industries.

Applications of plastics packaging includes plastic bags and plastic sacks, plastic boxes, plastic blow molded containers, plastic food packaging, plastic packaging for soaps, plastics for detergents and cosmetics, plastics for pharmaceuticals, plastic films, plastics for transit packaging. A broad range of plastic containers includes plastic food containers and clear plastic containers. Plastic bags are popular with consumers and retailers as they are a functional, lightweight, strong, cheap, and hygienic way to transport food and other products.

packaging supplies ~ food packaging ~

The benefits of plastic packaging

Packaging is...

... the top application for plastics (38% of all tonnage consumed in Europe)

Plastic packaging:
- is used in the composition of over 50% of all packaging for consumer products
- although it accounts for a mere 15% by weight of all packaging materials

9 indisputable qualities

Because plastics are:
  • cost-effective,
  • lightweight,
  • easy to convert,
  • transparent or opaque, matt or glossy, smooth or grainy,
  • rigid or flexible,
  • unbreakable at cold temperatures (deepfreeze) and equally capable of withstanding high temperatures (hot-fill process, cooking and sterilisation in situ),
  • either permeable or a barrier to oxygen and moisture, as required,
  • chemically inert in contact with food products and medicines,
  • hygienic and durable.

Plastics have naturally conquered the packaging market with their excellent capacity to adapt compared to traditional materials which remain confined to specific applications.

packaging suppliers ~ packaging supplier ~

Focus on Resource Optimisation

Contrary to some perceptions, plastics packaging actually makes a valuable contribution to resource efficiency and waste prevention. A recent German study concluded that without plastics packaging there would be some dramatic increase in weight, energy consumption and volume of waste

Today's plastics packaging is up to 80% lighter than it was 20 years ago. Advances in materials and processing technology has seen the weight of items decrease substantially over the years. Minimisation brings added advantages such as reduced fuel consumption and associated airborne emissions during distribution of packed products. Plastics allow packaging producers, packaging specifiers and packaging users to optimise their resources by cost-efficiently delivering products to consumers with minimal wastage.


packing list ~ plastic packaging ~

Purpose of Packaging

  • Protecting from impact and all outside interference and attack (oxidation, micro-organisms, moisture)
  • Extending the life or the freshness of the content
  • Enhancing the brand image of the product through the appeal of visual impact, touch, or sound
  • Informing consumers and making the product easier to use (measuring, opening / resealing, etc.)
  • Ensuring the integrity of the packaging and the safety of consumers by using tamperproof devices and safety closures
  • Storing, transporting

For the benefits, or better, the effectiveness of packaging to be assessed, its specific content and its actual conditions of use should also be taken into account. Packaging unquestionably prevents wastage of food and goods and thereby minimises the environmental impact of the overall packaging / content system.

bubble wrap packaging ~ retail packaging ~

Packaging materials

The most common types of material used for packaging are paper, board, plastic, glass, steel and aluminium.

Percentage weight of different packaging materials Percentages of packaged goods by material

Source: INCPEN, Towards greener households, June 2001


Paper and board are the most widely used packaging materials in terms of weight. Paper and board account for 43% by weight of all packaging and are used to pack 25% of all goods.Paper and board packaging make up 6.4% of the overall content of the typical household dustbin. For further information on paper and cardboard recycling see Waste Watch's Paper information sheet.

Plastic packaging accounts for 20% of the weight of all packaging and 53% of all goods are packaged in plastics. Because of its low weight and relative strength, plastic is one of the most energy efficient, robust and economic delivery methods available.

Even though plastics can be recycled, there are fewer recycling collection facilities than for other types of packaging waste and only 23% of plastics packaging waste was recycled in the UK in 2001.This is partially because plastic has a high volume to weight ratio, which can make recycling collections of plastic packaging waste less efficient than the collection of other recyclables which weigh more. Plastic also has a high calorific content, which allows energy recovery methods to be utilised efficiently if recycling is not possible.

The lack of end-markets for mixed and single stream plastics also forms a barrier to increased plastics recycling. Recycled plastics can be used for a variety of products, such as garden furniture, flower pots and containers, fibres and new packaging materials. For further information on plastic recycling see Waste Watch's Plastics information sheet.

Glass accounts for 20% of the weight of all packaging and 10% of all goods are packaged in glass.Glass can be recycled easily, and well established collection and recycling systems exist in the UK. The first bottle banks appeared in 1977, and there are now roughly 50,000 on some 20000sites around the country, usually located at civic amenity sites and supermarkets. Seven billion glass containers were produced in the UK in 2003 and the recycling rate has remained relatively constant at approximately 33% since 2000. This contrasts with much higher recycling rates of 80-90% achieved by other European countries. The reason these countries recover more glass for recycling is that they have a much more developed collection infrastructure. For further information on glass recycling see Waste Watch's Glass information sheet.

Aluminium is used packaging applications such as beverage and food cans, foils and laminates. It has a high value as a scrap metal and can be recycled economically. An estimated five billion aluminium cans were used in the UK in 2001, 42% of which were recycled. The total recycling rate for all types of aluminium (including aluminium foil, food trays, etc.) was 24% in 2002. For further information on aluminium recycling see Waste Watch's Metals information sheet.

Steel containers are used to package a wide range of products, including food, paint and beverages as well as aerosols. In the UK, thirteen billion steel cans are produced each year. Up to a quarter of new steel cans - more than three billion cans - are made from recycled steel. It is relatively easy to separate through magnetic extraction, making it the world's most commonly recycled material. The recycling rate for steel packaging, including transport packaging, such as steel drums and bale wire, was 42% in 2002. For further information on steel recycling see Waste Watch's Metals information sheet.

Mixed material packaging can in some cases have the benefits of being more resource and energy efficient than single material packaging, but combining materials makes recycling difficult. An example of this type of packaging is 'Tetra Pak' which typically consists of 75% paper, 20% polyethylene and 5% aluminium foil. Although many beverages are sold in this type of packaging, there is currently only one facility to recycle these in Fife, Scotland. There is potential to reprocess mixed materials packaging into other products such as floor coverings, shoe soles and car mats.


retail packaging ~ protective packaging ~

Food contact regulations for Packaging

Food safety concerns not just food but also the packaging in contact with the food; such packaging materials are subject to highly stringent regulations.

In Europe, Directive 89/109/CE is the regulatory framework which led to the initial harmonisation of national regulations for all materials. Directive 90/128/CE and its subsequent amendments specifically applies to all-plastic articles, be they mono-or multilayer structures.

Regulations are based on two fundamental principles:
  • The first entails ensuring that the constituents are harmless and non-toxic, and has led to the drawing-up of positive lists of allowable constituents.
  • The second is based on measuring the inertia or stability of materials vs food products using migration tests. These tests are designed to assess, in typical conditions of use, the quantities of constituents liable to be released by plastic packaging in contact with the food they contain. Migration test methods intended to check that materials comply with regulatory inertia requirements are being developed within the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), in which the Industry and Total in particular play an active part.

packaging solutions ~ packaging uk ~

Plastic Packaging Resins

These are the seven categories of Plastic Packaging Resins as defined by the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI)

(Listed in order of recycling code)

  1. PETE - Polyethylene Terephthalate (commonly known as Polyester is a clear, rather tough plastic that serves as a fairly good barrier to gas and moisture, and can stand up to reasonably high temperatures. As a result, it is commonly found in food containers. Most notably, soft drink and water bottles, as well as in frozen dinner trays that can tolerate oven temperatures other packaging resins may not survive. It is also used in the naff, but startlingly similarly shaped bottles used for mouthwash and salad dressing. PETE is very highly recycled, as it has many high-demand uses. Used commonly in carpets and furniture as yarn and fiberfill, this plastic has made a large impact in recent years as Polartec fleece.

  2. HDPE - High Density Polyethylene is a gas permeable plastic that is stiff, inexpensive, and resistant to a wide variety of chemicals and moisture. In the absence of dyes, HDPE is translucent, making it a useful plastic for showcasing food items, but its gas permeability limits its uses to products with a relatively short shelf life (an argument for those of you who say that glass makes a better container for milk than does plastic, as glass is not gas permeable). Milk, yogurt and juice containers are commonly made from HDPE. The bags that line cereal boxes and bags used in stores are commonly made from HDPE. As HDPE is stable in the presence of a wide variety of chemicals, it is used regularly for household cleanser containers. When recycled, HDPE is remarkably reusable, frequenting many of the containers from which it is recycled, from vitamin bottles to laundry detergent bottles. HDPE has also found its way into artificial lumber and structures (dog houses, Little Tikes jungle gyms, etc...)

  3. V - Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl) - Vinyl is exceptionally versatile, and it retains its strength, even when made flexible. Because it is tough and stable when exposed to electrical current, flexible vinyl is used very commonly for wire insulation (anyone reading this on a computer probably owes flexible vinyl a great deal). Medical tubing, blood bags, and leather clones are also made from flexible vinyl, the latter giving vinyl a bad name. It is important to note that vinyl is clear but commonly dyed (and opaque) when used in cloth applications. When rigid, vinyl's resistance to grease, oil and many other classes of chemicals makes it an ideal plastic for construction. Rigid vinyl is used regularly in siding, windows, pipes, fittings and flooring. Recycled vinyl is used for flooring, road gutters, packaging and, pimp this, speed bumps.

  4. LDPE - Low Density Polyethylene - LDPE is fairly tough and transparent, but is not very resistant to heat. LDPE is used most commonly in film applications (applications that use a normally rigid, but thin layer of plastic in a way that cloth might be used). LDPE is used in bread bags, frozen food bags, and squeezable bottles. It is also very popular in heat sealing applications, as it is effected quickly when modest amounts of heat are applied (Shrinkwrap). LDPE is recycled fairly regularly, and makes its way into trash bags, compost bins, trash cans, floor tile, shipping envelopes and molded furniture.

  5. PP - Polypropylene - Polypropylene has exceptional resistance to chemicals and bears the lowest density of the plastics commonly used in packaging. It has a relatively high melting point, making it an ideal plastic for hot-fill liquids. Polypropylene is widely used for everything from medicine bottles to molded automobile parts to the very ketchup bottle that you might be drinking from right now. Recycled polypropylene regularly serves in ice scrapers, brooms, brushes, lunch trays and plastic-tined rakes.

  6. PS - Polystyrene - Polystyrene is a more commonly known as Styrofoam, only one of its possible forms. Styrofoam is (rather obviously) a foamed version of polystyrene that is used very commonly in food packaging. Styrofoam makes its way into cups, egg cartons, plates and peanuts on a fairly regular basis. In spite of its acceptance as a container for prepared food and beverages, polystyrene has a melting temperature low enough melt in hot cooking oil. Rigid polystyrene is used in rulers, compact disc cases (jewel cases), clear medicine bottles and light switches/plates. Polystyrene is easily recycled into many of the items from which it is recycled and a few others, including, packaging materials, foam insulation, thermometers and food containers.

  7. OTHER - As the field of plastics is a constantly expanding one, SPI took note of the possibility that a plastic packaging resin might be used that did not fit into one of the six categories listed above, and acted accordingly, adding a default group, OTHER.

packing materials ~ packaging material ~

Area of applications for Plastic Packaging

  1. Heathcare

  2. Pharma

  3. Primary Packaging

  4. Prescription

  5. Closures

  6. Beverage

  7. Speciality

  8. High Barrier food

  9. Personal care

  10. Dispensing System

  11. Make Up

  12. Home & Personal Care

  13. Bottles

  14. Creates & Pallets

  15. Disposables

  16. Drums

  17. Food containers & Trays

  18. Film

flexible packaging ~ packaging company ~

Packaging types

Packaging may be looked at as several different types. For example a transport package or distribution package is the package form used to ship, store, and handle the product or inner packages. Some identify a consumer package as one which is directed toward a consumer or household.

It is sometimes convenient to categorize packages by layer or function: "primary", "secondary", etc.

  • Primary packaging is the material that first envelops the product and holds it. This usually is the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package which is in direct contact with the contents.
  • Secondary packaging is outside the primary packaging ' perhaps used to group primary packages together.
  • Tertiary packaging is used for bulk handling and shipping.

Using these three types as a general guide, examples of packaging materials and structures might typically be listed as follows:

  1. Primary packaging
    • Aerosol spray can
    • Bags-In-Boxes
    • Beverage can
    • Wine box
    • Bottles
    • Blister packs
    • Carton
    • Cushioning
    • Envelopes
    • Plastic bags
    • Plastic bottles
    • Skin pack
    • Tin can
    • Wrappers
  2. Secondary packaging
    • Boxes
    • Cartons
    • Shrink wrap
  3. Tertiary packaging
    • Bales
    • Barrel
    • Crate
    • Container
    • edge protector
    • Flexible intermediate bulk container, Big bag, "Bulk Bags", or "Super Sacks"
    • Intermediate bulk container
    • Pallets
    • Slip Sheet
    • Stretch wrap

These broad categories can be somewhat artibrary. For example, depending on the use, a shrink wrap can be primary packaging when applied directly to the product, secondary packaging when combining smaller packages, and tertiary packaging on some distribution packs.


packaging ~ packing ~

7R's of Sustainability in Packaging

  1. Remove Packaging

  2. Reduce Packaging

  3. Reuse Packaging

  4. Renew(able) Packaging

  5. Recycle(able) Packaging

  6. Revenue

  7. Read

packaging custom ~ packaging materials ~

Factors that affect odor and taste of contents due to plastics packaging

The aim of packaging is to minimize sensory changes as much as possible over the shelf lives of these products. Even as plastic packaging protects its contents, it can alter their taste and odor. Taste and odor are very important in packaging of foods, beverages, and other goods sensitive to taste and odor. Preserving the taste and odor of products in plastic packaging is a complex process that extends throughout a package's path from formulation to customer.

In most cases the change in taste and odor is of little consequence, but in some cases, the change can be critical. A glaring example is neutral products like bottled water that are especially susceptible to organoleptic influences. Organoleptic properties, ie additives, processing and storage of products, affect the odor and taste of plastic end products. Given the resources that food, beverage and other manufacturers expend in creating compelling products, it is of prime importance to them to avoid a plastic package alter the taste and odor.

Everyone involved in the chain of the package's creation, including the additive masterbatch suppliers, compounders, molders and extruders, are asked to validate that a package won't cross-contaminate a food or a beverage. This makes it critical to ensure that the materials used and the processing steps followed affect the taste or odor of the contents and their organoleptic qualities as little as possible. Since any packaging raw material can cause organoleptic concerns, masterbatch suppliers and others involved in compound formulation must know how various pigments, resins and additives affect taste and odor.

Taste and odor issues most often occur when a component in the plastic migrates into the contents of the package, although other mechanisms such as 'scalping' (chemical interaction between the package and its contents) may also be present. An important initial step is to learn which package ingredients cause off-flavors and aromas so the additive and resin combination chosen has minimal organoleptic impact. Once package prototypes have been developed, the choice of packaging raw materials is often confirmed by taste and odor panels and perhaps by analytical methods. Getting the package formulation right the first time saves time and money in package development, accelerates time to market, and eliminates costly packaging rework and re qualification later on, along with assurance of consumer acceptance.

The ability to make informed choices about components such as pigments, resins and additives, begins with testing of raw materials to create a database of organoleptic properties - based on a company's knowledge of pigments and additives and how they affect taste and odor and the other is empirical and based on how taste and odor panels have evaluated packaging that contains certain colorants and additives. The optimum approach to creating plastics packaging free of taste and odor problems is to choose an 'organoleptic-friendly' colorant and avoid the use of functional additives. In general, most FDA-compliant colorants are organoleptically suitable. Still, colorants require careful selection because some have more problematic chemistries than others when it comes to taste and odor. Many formulators avoid colorants that contain either chlorine or sulfur due to their potential to cause sensory issues, and some manufacturers have strict limits on compounds with such colorant content, eg Ultramarine blue pigment, with its residual sulfur content.

Off-tastes can also arise from coatings on mineral pigments, such as rutile titanium dioxide (TiO2), which are often designed to assist dispersion. In fact, only a few of the TiO2 white pigments currently available are suitable, which makes it imperative for those formulating masterbatches for plastic packaging to monitor such pigments from all suppliers. Careful consideration is also required when selecting organic additives used in packaging resins, including slips used for torque reduction in closures or as a mold release, antioxidants for protection against thermal degradation, antistats and dispersion agents that aid in the manufacturing process.

To avoid organoleptic problems, formulators should opt for high-purity additives that contain relatively low concentrations of lower-molecular-weight contaminants that readily migrate out of a plastic. Formulators should also use these additives at the lowest effective dosage. Those made from vegetable sources are generally preferred to those derived from animal sources, which may go rancid over time. Primary slips are a good example, with formulators gravitating to vegetable-based erucamide types over animal-based oleamide slips. Another key is to minimize or eliminate organic functional groups such as amines, amides, esters, ethers, and hydroxyls, which contain heteroatoms (oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur) that are typically migratory and impact taste and odor. For example, this means avoiding antistats based on amine or ester chemistries and antioxidants that use combinations of phosphates and either hindered phenols or thiol esters.

    Several other factors can weigh in on the organoleptic integrity of a package. Among them is the choice of carrier resins used in masterbatches. These should be neat resins that are free of low-molecular-weight components. Even when formulating with a high level of organoleptic awareness, problems can arise during processing. To safeguard against cross-contamination, packaging manufacturers should consider using dedicated equipment whenever possible for applications sensitive to taste and odor. There are a few standard ASTM methods that have been developed that evaluate & measure organoleptic properties. They are:

  • ASTM E1870-04, 'Standard Test Method for Odor and Taste Transfer from Polymeric Packaging Film,' provides test methods for evaluating monolayer, coextruded, and laminated films in terms of perceived odor and the transfer of package-related odors and flavors.
  • ASTM D1292-05, 'Standard Test Method for Odor in Water,' offers a test method for determining odor intensity with regard to effluents, which may carry a myriad of compounds that contribute to odor problems.
  • ASTM E460-04, 'Standard Practice for Determining Effect of Packaging on Food and Beverage Products During Storage,' addresses the detection of changes in the sensory attributes of foods and beverages stored in various packaging materials and systems.
  • ASTM STP 434, 'Manual on Sensory Testing Methods' and ASTM STP 758, 'Guidelines for Selection and Training of Sensory Panel Members,' are publications that are out of print but available in some libraries.

Shelf life is also an issue with masterbatches designed for an organoleptic-sensitive application, because additives can degrade as they age. Such masterbatches usually have shelf lives of six months or less, as opposed to two years for conventional masterbatches. The shorter shelf lives prevent migratory components in the masterbatch from traveling to the pellet surfaces. Good manufacturing practices regarding inventory turnover is a requirement to ensure product viability.

Molders and extruders need to keep processing temperatures from rising so high that the resin degrades and creates species that cause offensive odors and tastes. The rest of the supply chain can also create organoleptic problems. For example, sterilization by ultraviolet light or ozone can affect some of the organic additives in a plastic to create off-tastes and odors. Even distribution and storage can alter taste and odor if the package shelf life is exceeded or storage temperature goes too high. Taste and odor are psychophysical phenomena that vary from person to person. As subjective perceptions, they are best evaluated by panels of carefully selected individuals trained to detect them. Packagers of beverages like wine, liquor, coffee, and water, as well as foods, drugs, perfumes, cosmetics, and other fragrant health and beauty aids, have a long history of reliance on taste and odor panels to assess aroma and flavor.

Molders and manufacturers often use such panels to screen prototype packaging to see if the organic and inorganic ingredients and processing method used affect the organoleptic integrity of the contents. Testing panels are also used in quality-control programs during production to evaluate incoming raw materials or respond to customer complaints. Panels also come into play after a package is reformulated. Much thought has been given to how to gain dependable results from taste and odor panels. Their use typically involves blind studies in which test samples are evaluated against a control. Panels may simply rate the difference between samples and a control as pass or fail or, they may rank the taste and odor intensity of samples based on set descriptions e.g., no difference, slight difference (acceptable), moderate difference (problematical), and pronounced differences (rejected). Such descriptors are often assigned numerical values'e.g., zero for no difference, 0 to 1 for a slight difference, and so forth. Panel members rate samples along the spectrum defined by the scale so the results can be analyzed statistically.

Taste and odor panels contain 4 to 15 or more individuals selected from the local community who represent a cross section of age and gender. The overall goal is to have all panel members assess samples in the same way. Recruits are tested for sensitivity to tastes and odors using standard odorants to ensure they are not hypersensitive or lack sensitivity to odors. They cannot be smokers and they must be free of physical conditions that affect smell or taste, such as colds, allergies, and asthma. Those accepted are trained in sensory awareness, the descriptors to be used, and how to behave on the panel (such as to avoid biasing others on the panel with one's perceptions during testing).

Panels operate in a controlled environment free of odors, noise, and other distractions, and are asked not to chew gum or eat just before or during testing, to not wear perfume and other scented items, and to keep their hands and clothes clean and free of odors. All samples are prepared and presented to panel members in the same way. Data from taste and odor panels is often all that is needed to ensure a product is suitable for its intended use. Such panels remain the most consistent and practical method for determining if a package is suitable for a food or beverage application.

At times there is a need to identify offending substances in a package so the source of the problem can be found and corrected. Characterizing such substances is a daunting and time-consuming task. While gas chromatographs (GC) and mass spectrometers (MS) provide objective measurement of specific chemicals, this approach is limited because flavor involves trace levels of a great many compounds interacting with the human sensory apparatus.

An effective approach to identifying compounds that cause odor quality defects combines conventional gas chromatograph and mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) methods with olfactometry and multidimensional GC separation techniques.

Reference: Plastics Technology

promotional packaging ~ plastic bags ~

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Plastic packaging growth to benefit from innovation

Plastic is expected to outpace paper as the packaging material of choice in the US food sector asindustry leverages the advantages of the petroleum-based material, according to a new report.

Innovations such as improvements in degradable materials and newer grades of polyethyleneterephthalate (PET) bottle resin are some of the developments that are helping to boost the growth of plastic as the packaging material of choice, according to Freedonia.

Plastic packaging growth is expected to outpace that of paper through 2010 in all competitive markets covered inthe study. The use of plastic packaging will expand by nearly 3 per cent per year through2010, the analyst forecasts.

When assessed by weight of material, plastic is expected to increase its share of the market to 53per cent in 2010, the analyst stated. The percentage understates plastic's share since less of thematerial is required than paper in most packaging applications due to its lighter weight.

The increased use of plastic will result from the material's competitive cost and performance advantages over paper. The most rapid gains inmarket share are anticipated in soy and other non-dairy beverages and the pet food segments.

The frozen food, fruit beverages and detergent markets are also expected to be growth areas forplastic packaging, Freedonia stated.

"Robust growth is also expected for single-serving plastic milk bottles, driven by conversions from half-pint gabletop cartons to plastic bottles inquick service restaurants and school lunch programs," Freedonia stated.

Meanwhile paper packaging will post marginal advances or continue to decline in most competitive markets through 2010 due to inroads from plastic.

However, Freedonia forecasts above average growth in the foodservice, dairy and soy milksegments, with organic milk also a growth niche.

Both plastic and paper packagers are continuing to innovate to meet the changing needs of themarket. In the plastic market, improvements in degradable materials should expand the range of packaging uses for thosematerials, a Freedonia spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com.

The development of newer grades of PET bottle resin made with reduced acetaldehyde has helpedlower the migration of off flavors in bottled water, increasing its attractiveness.

Freedonia forecasts that degradable plastic demand will expand nearly 17 percent per year to 500 million pounds in 2010 due to a more competitive pricing structure, improved resin properties and widening applications.

Degradable plastics have the potential of capturing up to 20 percent of the existing market for plasticproducts, the spokesperson stated. The continued market expansion hinges on a competitive pricing structure and the ability of degradable plastics to be processed on conventional equipment will little or no alteration.

"Other stimulants include growing environmental awareness of and government policies favoring the use of sustainable naturalresources," the spokesperson stated.

For example, in 2005 the US Department of Agriculture established guidelines under which bio-based products will be given preference in procurement programs under the aegis of the federal government.Companies such as Wal-Mart have announced plans to replace a significant amount of conventional packaging with degradable plastic packaging for items such as fresh produce.

"Unique benefits must also be afforded the consumer in areas such as performance, convenience and environmentalcompatibility," the spokesperson stated. "The primary objective of degradable plastics is to provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastics' disposal, while lessening the nation's dependence on non-renewable petroleum feedstocks."

Food packaging is one of the leading uses for degradable plastics. However its use is relatively small compared to conventionalmaterials.

Containers, films and foams made of biodegradable plastic resins are currently being used to enclose meats, dairy products, baked goods and produce. Other uses include disposable bottles and cups for water, milk, juices andbeverages, Freedonia suggests.

In the paper packaging market, materials with improved barrier properties have been introduced, such as Stora Enso'sMultiflex product for stand-up pouches, the spokesperson stated.


Plastic Packaging Plaudits

Convenient, attractive and high-tech, packaging in the 17th annual DuPont Awards program includes 22 international food and nonfood winners, such as a hermetically sealed barrier plastic bottle for nutritional supplements, a holographic blister-pack foil that thwarts counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and a thermoformed barrier pack for pat' that withstands pasteurization and avoids UV oxidation.

Be it a glossy standup pouch that transitions snack cracker chips into an entirely new package platform or a vibrantly sleeve-decorated, plastic dispenser for coffee creamer designed for one-handed opening and pouring, winners in the Seventeenth annual DuPont Awards (www.dupont.com/packaging/awards) for Innovation in Packaging feature breakthrough structures. These containers aim to please with convenience, barriers, functionality and imaginative printing and/or converting techniques that set them apart-and set the pace-in their product categories.

Entrants are required to include plastic materials as an essential component. A total of 22 international food and nonfood packaging advancements, hailing from countries including Spain, India, Canada, Columbia, Germany and the U.S., were selected from an astounding 104 entries and granted awards. Submitted by packaging designers, converters, consumer and industrial packagers and equipment manufacturers, the honored entries include three Diamond Awards-the top, most prestigious winners deemed most innovative by the seven-member judging panel-as well as gold and silver award levels in food and nonfood categories. A fourth category, Special Citation, was presented this year to two entries the judging panel felt deserved recognition.

Because there are so many winners, PD will cover the top food and nonfood winners in the article below and will publish the rest in subsequent issues. All of the winners were recognized on Aug. 6, at a ceremony held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

Foil provides only the real thing

Issuing three Diamond Awards this year may be a first for judges in this competition. One such winner is an anticounterfeiting holographic foil lidding material from India for use in pharmaceutical blister-packs (1), entered by The Paper Products Ltd. (PPL) (www.pplpack.com.) for GlaxoSmithKline Nigeria. A technical innovation that also protects against tampering, the foil material incorporates what is described as continuous hologram security seals. Surface-printed by gravure in four or five colors and in three designs in-register, the cold-formed foil lidding for a Panadol' analgesic receives a heat-sealable lacquer on the reverse side, allowing it to seal to a 250-micron thermoformed polyvinyl chloride blister supplied by the customer.

In 2003, GlaxoSmithKline Nigeria first marketed the product in this packaging. The material proved so successful at preventing bogus duplication of viable pharmaceutical products merchandised in West African markets, that according to PPL, market share grew by an astounding 60 percent.

Used as the lidding for a continuous strip of four-pack blisters, the foil is notable for helping to ensure that only genuine pharmaceuticals reach end users, preventing unsuspecting consumers from the potentially deadly menace of counterfeit drugs. GlaxoSmithKline's packages are produced on a blister-packing line from IMA Pharma of Italy (www.ima.it), PPL tells PD (IMA is represented in the U.S. by IMA North America, Bristol, PA).

Tony Sirohi of PPL, a member of Huhtamaki (www.huhtamaki.com), says that unlike holographic pressure-sensitive labels adhered to conventional foil blister materials, the holographic portion of the material in this case is integrated into the foil, courtesy of "a proprietary process," Sirohi says. Thus, the hologram will show visible signs of tampering if disturbed. The 20-micron-thick foil is produced in roll form and printed on Japanese gravure presses. The holography is designed by PPL. Sirohi notes that the material can be used with most blister-pack foil applications to create a premium image for pharmaceutical products. Other applications of the material are being evaluated, he says, adding that PPL expects to introduce the holographic foil in europe and the U.S. some time in the future. Circle No. 228.

HDPE can perks at Folgers

foldgersThe other two Diamond Award winners are food-related, including Procter & Gamble's Folger's AromaSeal, LTM (2), canister, a shaped, high-density polyethylene coffee container that replaces a traditional three-piece steel can. The can is blow-molded of a proprietary six-layer barrier coextrusion that P&G's Gerard Buisson says provides all of the properties required by the product, such as the 12-month shelf life that consumers expect, as well as the same taste and aroma. The new plastic container is dent-resistant, lightweight and stackable. A built-in handle makes the large-mouth can easier to hold. P&G's Folgers Div. adopted the AromaSeal for the top-selling Folgers' 39-oz size of coffee as a new alternative to the metal can, in use now for 150 years. Other metal can sizes for Folgers brand coffee products are gradually following suit, P&G says. Standing 6 in. tall, the bright red container is 6 in. in dia and has a slightly shorter and wider configuration than a standard steel coffee can. Blow-molded by Liquid Container (www.liquidcontainer.com) in either bright red for regular or green for decaffeinated coffee, the AromaSeal also has four panels produced in a manner similar to that of a heat-set PeT bottle, with vertical recesses running its length. The plastic can won't rust and has a smooth rim with no sharp edges. The canister is capped with a black, snap-fitting overlid, injection-molded of low-density Pe by Erie Plastics (www.erieplastics.com) over a light-gauge metallized polyester-containing laminated membrane seal from Amcor Flexibles Raackmann (www.amcor.com) that eliminates the need for a can opener.

Amcor describes the peelable seal as having extremely thin barrier layers. The seal features Amcor's SoftValve, a patented, one-way valve in the center, that allows the freshly roasted coffee to off-gas in the container, eliminating back pressure and the potential for package explosion. The seal is a plus, because the product can now be filled and sealed immediately after it's roasted, instead of having to cool and naturally off-gas prior to being packaged. The seal also helps preserve freshness, keep air out and equalize pressure during shipping. Having to cool roasted, ground coffee before packing it in a metal can takes time and additional equipment, P&G says.

Multi-Color Corp. (www.multicolorcorp.com) prints the eye-catching heat-transfer label in five colors with the brand's Mountain Grownw graphics. Libby Perszyk Kathman (www.lpkdesign.com) was also involved in the package design. Several years of development went into the plastic package project, PD learns, which included designing the special lid that helps to ensure a tight fit and a tight seal, as well as the one-way degassing valve in the tabbed, peelable membrane.

PD covered the first-of-its-kind package (see www.packagingdigest.com/info/folgers) in 2003, following its introduction, when the can was starting to gain ground in supermarkets across the country. At that time, the Folgers Div. indicated that it would eventually convert entirely to plastic cans for all of its ground coffee, which could put an end to steel coffee cans.

Since then, Liquid Container reports that it has made no changes to the new plastic can's structure. The new coffee canister was initially filled at the company's eastern New Orleans coffee packaging plant on a line reconfigured to accommodate the plastic canister.

Today, P&G's Gerard Buisson says multiple lines have been configured to package the HDPE can. "The goal is to move the entire line of coffee skus from metal into plastic," he says. "We have converted our twenty-six-ounce can size to the AromaSeal and introduced a fifty-two-ounce size, which is likely to be made available in the [warehouse] club channels."

Maintaining product freshness was key to the design and was given plenty of consideration, says Product Ventures (www.productventures.com), which was involved in developing the structural design concept. The snap-fitting overlid is resealable, which increases the can's convenience. Tonya Hyatt, P&G's spokesperson, says, "Overall, the Folger's business is up on that thirty-nine-ounce sku, by four percent," she says. "Not only has the consumer response been amazing, but the resulting sales have been, too." Circle No. 229.

Cream of the crop in closures

international delight coffeeThe third Diamond Award went to a customized toggle dispensing closure on bottles of Dean National Food Group's Morningstar International Delight liquid coffee creamer (3). ergonomically fashioned so that it only requires one hand to open and close, the unusual toggle-closing cap grabs attention with its dollop shape and deep blue color. Lending consumers "a helping hand" with one-handed dispensing, the two-piece closure is injection-molded of polypropylene by Owens-Illinois (www.o-i.com). easily opened and closed with the touch of a finger, the cap tops a polyethylene terephthalate bottle with an ergonomically shaped, easy-grip neck.

Morningstar, a Dean Foods subsidiary, says the new package and closure were created in response to consumer research, and were highly rated in tests. "Dispensing closures such as this are [serving] a growing convenience market category and are enthusiastically embraced by consumers," says Owens-Illinois' Timothy McAshlan, of Closures & Specialty Products. "They are becoming a focus for consumer products companies. Food products continue to be at the forefront of exploring new package shapes, package concepts and materials."

Designed by Morningstar's marketing team along with input by Lipson Alport Glass & Associates (www.laga.com), the 38-mm closure features a toggle-style end that cleanly cuts off the product with minimal dripping and no residue and securely seals the bottle for refrigerated storage. The pour spout directs creamer contents, while a peelable foil membrane on the bottle mouth (from multiple sources) guards against leakage and helps keeps the creamer fresh in the refrigerated dairy case.

Introduced in March 2003 in supermarkets and clubstores nationwide (see packagingdigest.com/info/sleevelabels), the product has become a hit with consumers. The patent-pending, hourglass-shaped PET creamer bottle in 16- and 32-oz sizes is either blow-molded by Morningstar from a PET preform or is supplied by Amcor PET Packaging(www.amcor.com). The bottle replaces a gabletop carton in the movement to rigid plastic packaging and full-body sleeve labels.

The eye-catching, heat-shrinkable, full-sleeve label is made of polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) by American Fuji Seal (www.afseal.com), which gravure-prints it in nine colors. The wraparound graphics display the creamer swirling in a steaming cup of coffee beneath a colored banner that indicates one of 11 flavor varieties. The graphics are visible regardless of the product's orientation on stores shelves. Circle No. 230. Ritz® gets flexible for chips

ritzRitz® Chips, described by Kraft Foods as a "straddle snack that delivers the wholesomeness of Ritz® crackers in a chip-like format," are available in a new gold-award-winning standup bag (4) created by Printpack (www.printpack.com). The flat-bottomed, easy-open proprietary film structure earlier this year won a silver award for technical innovation from the Flexible Packaging Association (www.flexpack.org) (go to www.packagingdigest.com/info/fpa04). The custom standup bag holds about 9 oz of Original, Cheese and Sour Cream & Onion chip flavors. Made of a flexible film, the bag has a peelable opening feature and a handy peel-off tab reclosure on the back of the package. The side-gusseted format affords easy access to the chips. A tandem adhesive lamination structure, the bagstock provides barriers to extend product shelf life as well as high-speed machinability and crispness. Beyond the structure, the innovative flat-bottomed bag is impactful on store shelves, with its attention-getting, gravure-printed graphics. The design scheme presents the familiar blue circular Ritz® logo and vignette elements that Printpack says mandated reverse eight-color gravure printing's inherent fine-screen capabilities. Kraft says little about the new package, but spokesperson eva Peters does point out that sales of the chips have surpassed expectations, and the package is part of the reason.

Peters says that since the bag was introduced on the market last year, nothing about the flexible package has changed dramatically. "It's really selling very well," she says. "We think packaging is so much a part of why." Peters adds that the standup bag could potentially be used for other Kraft products in the future. Circle No. 231.

Retort bottle kicks the can

ensureEase of use is also emphasized in a highly functional retortable plastic bottle that won a gold award for the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories. Dairy-based Ensure® nutritional supplement drinks (5) now come in a portable, reclosable, lightweight 8-oz bottle. Made of a six-layer material incorporating PP/adhesive/EVOH/adhesive/regrind/PP, the diminutive bottle replaces a thermoformed plastic can with a double-seamed steel end for the single-serve drink. Ross Products, Columbus, OH, says a metal can for Ensure® is still currently available. Small, but quite sturdy, the plastic bottle is extrusion/blown by Owens-Illinois' Plastic Group and is designed to hold up to stress during thermal processing at retort temperatures of 265 deg F.

Integrity of the hermetic seal is delivered through a closure system in combination with a unique neck finish. Shelf-stable for at least 12 months-the same amount of time achieved by the previous two-piece PP/EVOH can-the bottle builds on consumer convenience with reclosability, portability, opening ease and an improved grip.

Launched nationally last August, the bottle is capped with an equally innovative retortable closure from Crown Cork & Seal (www.crowncork.com) called the TRR-Tamper Resistant Retort combination plastic/metal cap. Made tamper-evident with a twist-off drop ring, the linerless, two-piece composite closure is injection-molded of PP in a 40-mm size and has a steel disk insert.

Crown Cork's technical services team says it specifically designed the closure for Ross's retort application and plastic bottle. The closure has to maintain product seal integrity during retorting and allow the plastic bottle to be resealable and ready to drink from, without the need for a secondary innerseal. A tamper-evident feature was also important. Crown says it developed the TRR with the barrier properties to meet Ross's shelf life and product-integrity requirements.

The cap's metal disk provides superior seal integrity, which is critical during retorting, and acts like a disk closure on a canning jar to create a tight seal. Achieving a comparable seal with a one-piece closure would have required a secondary foil seal, which Ross did not want.

Pete Macauley, manager of packaging R&D at Ross Products, says, "The two-piece closure provides added seal integrity and well withstands the stresses of retorting. The stresses of a retort situation can compromise a hermetic seal in certain closures. The metal disk stays down and creates a seal on the bottle, even if the plastic part of the closure would rotate slightly, without losing the seal. We think we have a competitive advantage in the low-acid drink market, because this cap doesn't need a removable foil innerseal. Most caps for other such products do."

The new package also gets a healthy shot of sales appeal with the use of a handsome, heat-shrinkable, 1.95-mil PVC sleeve label, reverse-gravure-printed by American Fuji Seal in seven colors with vivid, "upscale" graphics. Innovations & Development (www.idi.com) worked with consumers to generate the initial design requirements of the new package and was a Ross design partner leading up to the final design. A three-layer, 2.5-mil coextruded Pe shrink-film wrap from Bemis Flexible Packaging (www.bemis.com) bundles groups of the bottles into a six-pack. Reverse flexo-printed in seven or eight colors, depending on the product variety, the high-clarity shrink film gives the multipack extra sheen. A full-wraparound corrugated case from Weyerhaeuser (www.weyerhaeuser.com) holds four of the six-packs, for a total of 24 bottles.

Consumers prefer the reclosable single-serve bottle over the previous thermoformed can, Macauley says. "Consumer like this bottle without an internal peel-off seal," he says. "The optimized structural design minimizes product degradation and maintains flavor, nutrition and product color." Considerable package design and technical know-how went into the new package, Macauley continues. "The ability to maintain the bottle's shape and seal integrity is key while it is enduring the high temperatures, pressures and stresses of retort sterilization. The sealing technology required a robustness to withstand production line speeds exceeding those for the conventional metal can lines."

The new Ensure® bottle communicates a healthy look, not a medicinal one, while the plastic bottle differentiates Ensure® from the metal cans in the market, Macauley says. It also supports the product's younger image. "As consumers continue to increase their nutritional awareness, there will be a greater demand for convenient packaging," he adds.

Ross fills the Ensure bottles on a new production line installed at its manufacturing facility in Alta Vista, VA, that Macauley says achieves 25-percent to 30-percent faster speeds than the former line. Additional products may be converted to this type of bottle soon. "We are currently assessing the benefits of launching additional products in a plastic bottle," he says. Circle No. 232.

Pate container spreads the word about barrier retort technology

PateA new retorted plastic package for La Piara's Sabores Frescos pate spreads, available in Spain, is a breakthrough for such products. The clear rigid thermoformed tray-pack (6) also won gold for the rigid tray's unique barrier properties and rugged retortability. Holding 125 g of ham, tuna, salmon, spicy sausage and other flavors of pate sandwich spreads distributed for La Piara by Grupo Alimentario Argal, the small 135-mL tray is thermoformed by EDV Packaging Solutions (www.edvamerica.com), which has a U.S. sales location in Coral Gables, FL. Measuring 89.4 x 9.4 x 32.7 mm, the tray is heat-sealed with a peelable membrane made with Alcan Packaging's (www.Ceramis.com) heat-sealed Ceramis® silicon oxide (Si0x) transparent barrier film, chosen for its optical clarity and excellent barrier properties. Over that is a navy blue PP overwrap, injection-molded locally in Spain and topped with a PP spot label printed with product details. The package is merchandised in a paperboard overwrap (sourced in Spain), offset-printed in seven colors.

The sheetstock for the tray's unique, five-layer, 55-mil-thick PP/EVOH/PP barrier structure was designed and is coextruded by the same EDV group. The package has a high oxygen barrier achieved with thermally-resistant EVOH. DuPont's Bynel® modified ethylene copolymer adhesive resin is incorporated into the structure to maintain high temperature-resistance suitable for retorting. Barriers to UV light are achieved by blending a UV additive with the PP material, explains Xavier Franco, marketing and corporate development manager at EDV. An antistat additive in the external PP layer makes the package a retail standout.

Franco says the tray-pack resists oxygen and UV oxidation and can withstand pasteurizing of the product for more than one hour. Shelf-stable for six to 12 months, the package has an attractive, glass-clear finish.

La Piara launched the new package in Spanish markets in February of 2003 and has since expanded its distribution to Chile. Franco says Spanish pate spreads such as these have traditionally been marketed in metal cans. "The transparent plastic barrier tray has practically led to La Piara's creation of a new category for the pate spreads in the market," he says. La Piara's facilities in Manlleu (near Barcelona) fills and seals the package on an elton fill/seal machine and then retorts the package. Franco adds that the container design also features technical innovations that minimize air bubbles created during the filling process that can affect product oxidation. Circle No. 233.

Water-solubles 'cascade' into detergent market

cascadeCascade 2 in 1 ActionPacse™ automatic dishwashing detergent from Procter & Gamble (7) is also a gold winner for its unit-dose, dual-purpose functionality and packaging ingenuity. Produced by Monosol LLC (www.monosol.com), the mini, dual-compartmented, water-soluble film sachet holds concentrated, powdered Cascade® detergent in one compartment and blue, liquid Dawn® grease cutter in the other. Twenty of these concentrated sachet packs are unitized in a bright green standup pouch with a gusseted bottom and a resealable zipper closure. The pouch has a transparent film base and a transparent film window on the front panel.

The cold-water-soluble film packet provides the cleaning benefits of both a powdered detergent and a liquid grease cutter, encapsulated in a single, easy-to-use premeasured dose. Thus, existing water-soluble film technology has moved a step further in packaging powder and liquids together. exactly how a water-soluble packet can contain both a liquid and a powder is the main reason the Action Pacs won a gold award.

Made from DuPont's elvanol® polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) cast copolymer film, which is produced using what MonoSol calls a solution-casting process, the individual packets are completely transparent, so that the white, powdered detergent and the bright blue liquid grease cutter show through. The combination of cleaners starts to dissolve as soon as the dishwasher begins its wash cycle.

Christian Rath, director of new business development at Monosol, says that while specific packaging details are confidential, and he can't say exactly how the packets are formed or filled, he does indicate that they're made of a custom-designed film based on the M8630 grade. In fact, three webs of film are used to produce the mini packet and accommodate both the powdered product and liquid grease cutter at one time. PD speculates that the packet is produced on specialised thermoform/fill/seal equipment designed to operate with the three webs of film.

The packet is very efficient-there's nothing to dispose of, it eliminates direct contact between the user and the product and the packet dissolves in water in seconds. But while the use of water-soluble packaging film isn't new, Monosol has taken its technology a step further in the challenge of using the film in packaging applications for a commercial product like this one. Rath points out that several issues exist, "including chemical compatibility of the product, the value-in-use of the packaging and the difficult handling conditions of the film (given its variability in different heat and humidity conditions). Some products have been successfully packaged [in this material], including agrochemicals, detergents and some industrial chemicals. However, they were all single formulations. The Cascade® 2 in 1 ActionPacs combine powder and liquid in one product."

Introduced in late 2003, the Cascade® product has met with great success, according to P&G, which PD is told manufactures the product and packages it in the U.S. "This package will impact the market by providing consumers with one product that does the work of multiple products," Rath reports. Circle No. 234.


Plastic hermetic packaging meets JEDEC standards

Air cavity package developer Quantum Leap Packaging, Inc. (QLP) has developed the industry's first hermetic plastic package that meets JEDEC standards. Called HermeTech, this plastic air cavity QFN maintains hermetic leak rates of less than 5x10-8 atm cc/s He, and passes full Mil spec reliability tests, said the developer.

Through a combination of its unique Quantech material technology, and innovative UltraSeal ultrasonic lid process, QLP has developed HermeTech plastic hermetic QFNs that feature tailorable properties, low moisture permeability and high temperature stability that enable true hermetic performance.

"We are pleased to offer HermeTech, the industry's first plastic hermetic package which combines the hermetic performance and reliability of ceramic packages with the design flexibility and tailored material properties of Quantech to solve longstanding packaging problems." said David Grooms, CEO of Quantum Leap Packaging. "I see QLP's breakthrough technology leading the next generation of semiconductor packaging."

Tailored for advanced packaging applications such as image sensors, HB-LEDs, MEMs, LDMOS and microwave devices, HermeTech QFNs provide packaging solutions to critical needs such as low stress packaging and improved thermal performance, said QLP.

Hermetic levels have never been achieved with organic materials. Traditional plastic packages such as epoxy transfer mold fail because of poor moisture absorption and other material issues such as stress and non-linear properties. Similarly, standard plastic air cavity packages have exposed leak paths at the lead frame-polymer interface and poor lid seal methods that fail to achieve hermetic performance, said the manufacturer.


Packaging, the largest application for the plastics market

In 2004, China's packaging sector consumed up to 5.4 million tons plastic and is expected to hit 6.25 million tons in 2005. Packaging has become the largest application market for plastic. By 2008, it is estimated that, plastic will exceed paper in many applications, thus becoming the packaging material with largest consumption. Besides, constant improvement of products' functions has become the largest driving force to boost rapid market expansion.

Features of typical plastic packaging

As one of the most extensively used plastic packaging materials, plastic film features a large variety and diversified applications, including plastic film for packaging bags as well as some special-purpose products such as liquid-packaging film, shrink film, wrapping film, preservative film used in refrigerator, fruit and vegetable preservative film, surface protection film and twisted film.

Container is another extensively used plastic packaging material followed plastic film. Plastic containers include various hollow containers, revolving boxes, cups and trays. Most hollow containers are used for packaging liquid materials. Revolving boxes are box-type containers for commodity circulation or production process to store and deliver spare parts. Such containers as thermoformed cups and trays featuring even thickness, easy manufacturing and low cost are more frequently used for food packaging.

Being an important plastic packaging materials, plastic braided bags are widely used for packaging various types of solid goods such as cement, grain, salt and chemical materials, with the largest consumption falls into 10-25kg medium and small packaging bags.

Foamed plastic products feature remarkable effect in shock absorption, shock resistance and thermal insulation. In addition to applications as foamed revolving boxes, foamed plastic products are also used as shock-resistant packaging for commodities like household appliances, electrical instruments and chemical reagents.

Plastic film: propelled by food industry

The high-speed growth of products, such as fresh goods, pet food, meat, poultry, seafood and fast food has offered opportunities for food plastic packaging market. Of these, packaging for food preservation plays a key role. Market expansion in convenient consumer goods, single-service products and fresh fruit has triggered constant market growth for flexible packaging applications.

The need to constantly satisfy higher-performance functions is the fundamental force to motivate the development of plastic packaging.

Antiseptic packaging is one of the basic requirements for food packaging. How to maximize shelf life of food is the focus for plastic film research and development. U.S. Hercules has recently launched a new packaging material which can control gases. This new material has fine air holes and can control and slow down gas exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide, thus inhibiting fruit and vegetable inhalation and keeping them fresh.

The fast living speed has brought forth the common use of convenient packaging. Shanghai East China Food & Beverage Research Institute has successfully developed a new generation of self-cooling and self-heating beverage pop-top can. Via a knob outside, the can is possible to cool beverage to 10'C-15'C or heat it to 43'C-50'C within 1-2 minutes.

To meet the market demand for packaging film of different functions, laminating/co-extrusion has attracted extensive attention lately. Recently, application of multi-layer co-extrusion technology producing high-barrier, multifunctional flexible plastic packaging materials has been a development focus in China, which has given birth to a full range of new products and new technologies. China has witnessed dramatic progress in film co-extrusion technology in recent years. For instance, a variety of multi-layer co-extrusion blown film equipment has been launched to market, including 5-layer high-barrier film co-extrusion blowing unit developed by Guangdong Jinming Plastics Equipment Co., Ltd.

Biax film is another factor trigger the high-speed growth of the film market. Furthermore, in combination with co-extrusion technology, biaxial stretching technology has made contributions to the rapid market growth of biax film in recent years.

Plastic container: new beverage packaging

Plastic packaging containers feature extensive market applications. Currently, plastic packaging is having the largest share in the beverage packaging market which is previously dominated by glass packaging.

PET bottle represents the fastest-growing plastic packaging container in these years. The introduction of a full range of injection/blow/stretching technical equipment has expanded PET bottle production substantially. It has been popular among customers due to its outstanding properties, and become a mainstay packaging material for such products as food, beverage and edible oil. Meanwhile, PET bottle has also witnessed rapid growth in applications like cosmetics and medicine. Nowadays in China, PET bottle has higher than 60% market share in carbonated beverage market. With the rapid expansion of tea beverage, 85'C-90'C hot-fill PET bottle has grown fast with higher than 50% in annual growth rate.

The development of clear PP (polypropylene) bottle represents another spotlight in recent plastic packaging markets, both home and abroad. New-type of high-clarity polypropylene is extensively used to injection, blow-extrusion, extrusion and thermoforming for containers and food/drug bottles. As a competitor to PS, PET and PE bottles, clear PP bottle features remarkable cost-effectiveness and promises extensive market prospect.

PET material carries high-barrier properties, placing it the most important position in packaging sectors such as carbonated beverage, fruit juice, dairy products, tea beverage and mineral water. In addition, PET packaging has almost completely substituted glass packaging in many sectors. However, PET encounters strong resistance when entering into the beer packaging market, the largest market for glass packaging. But this also means large potential for plastic packagers.

The development of high-barrier technology for beer packaging has been a significant target pursued by the plastic packaging sector. Multi-layer coating technology is most favored by packagers. Relatively, coating technology is more complicated but can reduce cost and guarantee good barrier properties. In recent years, active oxygen barrier technology has drawn much attention. Taking U.S. Invista as an example, it has developed a single-layer PET barrier bottle with active oxygen barrier properties and put it in trial in some beer breweries.

Nanotechnology is one of the key methods to achieve functional product and barrier properties. U.S. Polyester Manufacturer and Eastman Chemical have jointly developed a nylon-based nanometer composite material Imperm for PET multi-layer co-extruded blow-molding, which can be used as core-layer material for PET/Nylon/PET three-layer bottles. Apart from U.S., the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has successfully developed nanometer PET beer bottles for beer packaging which can meet the requirements of extended shelf life.

There is still a long way to go for various types of plastic packaging materials to get extensively used in beer packaging. However, while promoting plastic applications in the beer packaging market, the role of high-barrier technology is getting in such packaging sectors as pharmaceutical, cosmetics and pesticide that require high-barrier properties, triggering further expansion of plastic packaging.

Environmental protection: pressure for plastic packaging

Plastic packaging material has faced great pressure from environmental protection since emerging. In the past, the consciousness of environmental protection was not strong in China. The accumulation of plastic wastes has brought serious drawbacks to ecological balance and resulted in great hazard to our living environment, which has finally aroused countries worldwide. Quantity reduction, recycling, reuse and degradability are environmental protection measures that have to be taken.

Quantity reduction means reduction in consumption of plastic packaging materials for the purpose of reducing overall volume of plastic waste which will finally turn into pollution source. Lately, emphasis on reuse of plastic packaging materials and plastic bottles has been one of the spotlights for research and development. In addition, great attention has been paid to regeneration and reuse of plastic packaging materials, for example, making discarded plastic packaging materials into monomers or raw materials for other chemical products via physical disposal and chemical decomposition, or recovering energy via sintering treatment.

To intensify our efforts to develop degradable packaging materials is a considerable approach to ease the problem of pollution and minimize the utilization of non-regenerable resources. Currently, many countries are developing biodegradable resins to substitute existing plastic packaging. For instance, maize starch resin developed by Japan promises great development potential. Packaging material made with this material may be disposed of via burning, biochemical decomposition and intake by insects, thus eliminating the risk of white pollution. In current Japan, the number of plastic bags made with maize starch resin can compete with plastic bags made with polyolefin plastics. As a type of new green packaging material, water-soluble plastic packaging film has attracted increasingly extensive attention. Supported by China National Packaging Corporation Technical Depart, Zhuzhou Institute of Technology and Zhaoqing Fangxing Packaging Material Co., Ltd. in Guangdong, China have jointly developed water-soluble film and production equipment. They have started production and will launch their products to market soon.

It is estimated that, plastic packaging market will maintain its two-digit growth rate. Yet, we should not neglect the fact that many regions and countries have enacted some measures to restrict or prohibit the use of disposable packaging materials. If we fail to follow their pace or avoid environmental issues in production or investment, not only individual enterprises or the industry but also our entire human society may suffer under pollution in the near future.

Reference: http://plastics.2456.com/eng/epub/details.asp?epubiid=3&id=9751

Tetra Pak Rolls out New Packaging Material that is Stronger and Uses Less Plastic

Tetra Pak announced today that it is completing the worldwide roll-out of Wide, a new standard of packaging material for all ambient and roll-fed chilled liquid product packages.

The packaging material has a new innovative inner coating that is stronger and more robust than in the previous packaging material. Even though it is stronger, it is 30 percent thinner and requires fewer polymers to produce. As a result, Tetra Pak will be reducing its global consumption of polymers by 50,000 tons per year, which equates to about 2,500 shipping containers annually. Not only does this reduce the use of nonrenewable resources, it also has a direct and positive impact on the environment in terms of shipping, distribution and energy usage.

The new packaging material is a tangible example of Tetra Pak's environmental policy to continually improve the environmental performance. Wide reduces the energy consumption by 17% (less gross energy use) and by using less polymers, the percentage of renewable material-paperboard - used in the package is increased by 3.5%. At the same time, the performance of the new packaging material surpasses all expectations:

'We have already produced over 50 billion packages around the globe with Australia, Brazil and Japan leading the way,' explains G'nther Lanzinger, Project Director, "and both manufacturers and retailers are reporting better product performance and more cost-efficient operations. For instance, a transportation damage test in Brazil showed zero defects out of 9,000 packages transported on rough roads for 1,200 kilometres.'

By March, the new packaging material will be the de facto standard for carton packages and all Tetra Pak factories around the world will be using it.

The material has been developed exclusively for Tetra Pak as part of its drive for a new generation of better, safer and more environmentally friendly packages. 'The introduction of this new packaging material is the result of years of development work, driven by our desire to be innovative yet environmentally responsible throughout our development, production and supply chain', explains Connie Kristensson, Vice President, Industrialisation and Packaging Manufacturing Technology.


plastics packaging ~ poly bags ~

Other useful information on Plastic Packaging

For more detailed information on plastic bags, polythene bags, film, sheet, tubing, carrier bags, biodegradable bags etc. please visit www.packagingknowledge.com

This website is intended to provide a basic understanding of flexible plastic packaging products such as bags, film, liners, sheeting, tubing, covers, sealers, ties etc. It covers introduction of the product, history of the product, how product is made, properties of packaging products.

Also in this website we intend to explain the application of plastic packaging products, standards & specification related to products, and a place to buy common products.

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