29 Aug 2018 --- The use of PET as a packaging material is expected to continue its growth within the global liquid dairy sector. Traditionally packaged in carton or HDPE containers, liquid dairy products bottled in PET are forecasted to grow by 4.4 percent in the period from 2018 to 2020, according to Guillaume Rolland, Vice President Sensitive Products at Sidel. Sidel, provider of complete solutions for packaging liquids in PET, can and glass, advocates for the dairy industry to swap to PET packaging. Rolland explains to PackagingInsights.
“The PET growth can be credited especially to this packaging material’s 100 percent recyclability, its excellent barrier properties and its neck and cap tightness that ensures food safety. Moreover, from transparent to opaque solutions, PET packaging alternatives can ensure top product protection and quality, while delivering the expected shelf-life without the need for aluminum foil for a more sustainable business,” says Rolland.
Acting in a competitive marketplace, typically impacted by low margins, liquid dairy manufacturers seek innovations to achieve product differentiation and sustainable business. Sidel touts PET as being capable of offering high levels of product differentiation and flexibility as well as safety and sustainability by feeding into a circular economy and product integrity.
“Perfectly defined liquid recipes and processing methods, combined with the right PET bottle and aseptic packaging solutions can ensure maximum product integrity along the supply chain while optimizing uptime and costs. It is important to understand why PET is an attractive packaging material for the dairy industry, able to offer great potential regarding product safety, marketing opportunities, as well as flexible and cost-effective production,” says Rolland.
Technologies for differentiation and flexibility
Rolland highlights to PackagingInsights how the Injection Stretch Blow-Moulding (ISBM) technology, and particularly the Sidel Matrix blower, challenges PET production convention. The blower is a blow molding system that can reach any configuration, he notes, and can ensure bottle quality and food safety standards.
“Material distribution is improved as the machine is equipped with electrical stretching and bottle process deviations can be automatically detected and eliminated with the Intelliblower system, Sidel’s patented blowing process control and self-regulation tool that make the desired brand appearance possible.”
In this way, one of PET's strong attributes is how it allows brands to “stand out on the shelves and allow the bottles to speak for themselves.”
“This contributes to strong marketing opportunities: PET is transparent, making the product inside visible to the end consumer; bottles can be round or square – any shape, format or even neck diameter is possible. The bottles are easy to open and handle, and they allow for great cap type diversity while ensuring the necessary neck/cap tightness to preserve the product inside,” says Rolland.
Rolland further highlights the flexibility of PET, which is particularly important in terms of product recipes, bottle formats, caps and label applications. “Low and high acid products can be bottled on the same Sidel Aseptic PET packaging line, from 0.2 liters to 2 liters formats. Bottles can be sealed with standard flat caps or sports caps, including the possibility to add specific over-caps, to further differentiate the bottles.”
Such product differentiation is essential so producers can address changing trends and remain relevant.
A circular economy for PET
As a raw material, PET is the most affordable plastic available on the market, Rolland says, with prices that mostly remain stable. However, how does it hold up as the rhetoric around plastic waste intensifies?
“Since we started our PET journey, we have continuously focused on eco-friendliness. With the good neck and cap tightness of PET, the sealing does not require aluminum foil; consequently, dairy manufacturers have less raw material and equipment to acquire.”
“On top of being 100 percent recyclable, PET’s unique geometric properties and inherent barrier properties, together with its design flexibility, have enabled producers to use less and less material in the packaging process, while optimizing energy use.”
This falls in line with Sidels “rightweighting” approach, Rolland further explains: “Over the past thirty years, the company has halved the weight of a 1.5 liter PET bottle, while out speeds have been increased by 2.5 times. In this way, raw materials are saved and there are productivity gains.”
Furthermore, “a great part of our efforts is also on developing equipment that minimizes the consumption of resources. For example, our Aseptic Combi Predis uses no water and very few chemicals, while maintaining the highest levels of food safety. Since its launch, this solution globally contributed to saving seven billion liters of water and 57,000 tons of PET, while producing 46 billion bottles.”
Sidel has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Aseptic Combi Predis FMa blow fill seal filler following tests run at a dairy customer in North America. This regulatory acceptance demonstrates how the Sidel patented technology is 100 percent safe for the packaging of UHT milk, soymilk, coconut water, or teas in PET bottles, sold through the US and the rest of the world.
“This mission is imperative, considering that PET adoption in the food, beverage, home and personal care markets is projected to grow by three percent (2016-2020),” Rolland concludes.
By Laxmi Haigh
This feature is provided by NutritionInsight's sister website, PackagingInsights.
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