Signature Pack from SIG, the first aseptic carton pack 100 % linked to plant-based renewable materials, has won the prestigious international WorldStar Packaging Award, in the ‘Packaging Materials and Components’ category.
One of the major events held by the WPO (World Packaging Organization), the renowned awards – which have been running for nearly 50 years – are judged by a distinguished panel of international WPO representatives, plus an International Packaging Press Organization member.
Signature Pack is a key milestone in the aseptic packaging sector, driving the replacement of conventional plastics from fossil fuels by certified and sustainable plant-based polymers, which are used to laminate the paperboard and to make the closure without compromising on the quality of barrier protection.
SIG carton packs contain on average 70-80 % paperboard from renewable wood sources. Additionally, in Signature Pack the polymers used for laminating the paperboard and making the closure are linked to plant-based material via a mass balance system. This means that for the polymers used in the Signature Pack, an equivalent amount of bio-based feedstock went into the manufacturing of the polymers.
One of the key attributes that elevated Signature Pack to the top of the judge’s shortlist was the use of tall oil – a by-product of paper production – as the bio-based feedstock going into the polymers via mass balancing, as it doesn’t affect staple food crops. To ensure the integrity of this process, the mass balancing is certified through internationally recognised third-parties.
Ace Fung, Global Product Manager at SIG, received the WorldStar Packaging Award on behalf of SIG: “This award is another great accolade for SIG and its ongoing commitment to going ‘Way Beyond Good’ and to becoming a net-positive business. Signature Pack uses tall oil as the bio-based feedstock because it is a by-product of paper production, rather than a crop which requires land to grow. In doing this the polymer used to laminate Signature Pack has a 100 % link to plant-based material. This is a world first for aseptic carton packs and also a drive for a more sustainable future in the global packaging industry.”
Signature Pack is a stand-out carton pack both in terms of providing added value to the beverage industry and satisfying growing consumer demand for sustainable packaging solutions. Signature Pack is one of the most pivotal innovations supporting SIG’s Way Beyond Good ambitions to offer customers the most sustainable food packaging solutions and to becoming a net positive business by contributing more to society and the environment than it takes out – across the value chain.
The single-screw extruder
New State-Of-The-Art Production
SIG announces further Asia-Pacific expansion
As the Asia-Pacific region continues to be one of the major growth engines for aseptic carton packaging, SIG has announced investment in the region with the construction of a second production plant in Suzhou, China.
To meet current and future customer demand, the new 120,000 square meter plant is expected to be operational in early 2021 and will be situated at the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), close to the company’s existing production facility and Tech Centre. With a total investment of EUR 180 million, the new plant will ensure exceptional delivery on outstanding opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, where most countries continue to grow significantly. The plant is expected to achieve world-class environmental, safety and operational performance right from the start.
The new production facility is testament to SIG’s strong partnership with SIP and the local government, as well as its unparalleled commitment to deliver world-class packaging, service and the most modern solutions to the rapidly growing Asian markets and to China in particular. SIG’s recently opened cutting-edge Tech Centre in Suzhou supports customer collaboration in the development and implementation of innovative product concepts and market-ready packaging solutions.
Across Asia, millions of people are only now starting to consume packaged food and beverages. The rise of new consumers, driven by increasing income, changing lifestyles and new consumption habits, represents a huge opportunity for aseptic carton packaging with its long shelf life without the need of a cooling chain.
At the same time, young and growing populations are adopting modern lifestyles in urban areas, with more on-the-go consumption, an increasing awareness of health and wellness, and a growing demand for high-quality nutritional food and beverage products.
“The food and beverage market in Asia has seen continuous growth and is expected to continue on that path. Our new production plant will ensure we continue to excel at bringing new and exciting product and packaging concepts to market, quickly and efficiently. Together with our Tech Centre close by, the new plant is another pivotal moment for SIG in Asia. We will grow our business in the APAC region, but also expedite true beverage and dairy innovation for our customers, so they can quickly adapt to the changing lifestyle needs of Asian consumers.”
Rolf Stangl, CEO at SIG
Conveying & Filling, Packaging, Labeling & Storage Food & Beverage Plant Construction, Engineering & Components
Coperion has enabled Benin-based blown film manufacturer Asahel Benin Sarl. to produce sustainable, bio-based plastic films in the future by delivering a complete compounding system and sharing the corresponding process engineering expertise. The system includes a ZSK 26 Mc18 twin screw extruder, four highly accurate feeders from Coperion K-Tron, as well as a water bath, an air wipe and a strand pelletizer from Coperion Pelletizing Technology. Before plastic bags and packaging were banned in Benin in July of 2018, this west African manufacturer had made its plastic films using polyethylene (PE). The new law forced the company to completely convert its production. Following a successful test and training phase at Coperion’s Stuttgart test lab, Asahel Benin Sarl. will produce biodegradable compounds in its home country with the aid of the ZSK twin screw extruder, and will then further process these on its existing blown film machinery into biodegradable bags and packaging materials.
Importation, production, sale, and possession of petroleum-based plastic bags and packaging has been forbidden in Benin since 2018. Until then, Asahel Benin Sarl. had used both new PE compounds as well as recyclate for manufacturing its films that were then used predominantly in household products and in shopping bags for supermarkets.
Intensive tests at Stuttgart test lab
When the new law took effect, the blown film manufacturer had to radically alter its production. Asahel Benin Sarl. turned to the compounding experts at Coperion. From this first contact, a cooperative partnership quickly arose, as did a new corporate strategy thereafter. Asahel Benin Sarl. ordered a laboratory-scale compounding system to develop a biologically degradable compound formulation that could be used in existing blown film manufacturing facilities. The lab-scale system includes a ZSK 26 Mc18 twin screw extruder, four highly accurate powder, pellet, and liquid feeders, as well as a water bath, an air wipe and a strand pelletizer type SP 50. Before the complete system could be delivered to Benin and put into service, it was assembled and tested intensively at Coperion’s Stuttgart location in the test lab.
Sharing process engineering expertise
Throughout the entire project, Asahel Benin Sarl. could fall back on Coperion’s comprehensive, process engineering expertise, for both the mastery of the entire system’s complexity as well of as the seamless interaction of its components, and in particular relating to the twin screw extruder’s configuration. Formulations with starch content, for example, represent a particular challenge for configuring the twin screws, as the melting zone in the extrusion process must both melt polymers and plastify non-meltable starch while adding liquid. Moreover, David Romaric Tinkou, Development Leader of Asahel Benin Sarl., received comprehensive training on the compounding machine’s operation. Thus began the development of a formulation for the necessary biopolymer.
Flexible set up
Coperion’s experts designed the compounding system for Asahel Benin Sarl. very flexibly in order to enable maximum freedom in developing a suitable formulation. In so doing, the system can allow materials to be added from many different components as well as intensive melt devolatilization. Following the die head with nozzle comes a water bath for strand cooling, dewatering of the strand surfaces using an air wipe, and a strand pelletizer.
David Romaric Tinkou is very satisfied with how the project went: “It was clear quite quickly that we needed a new business strategy to keep operating our blown film plants here in Benin. I’m very happy that with Coperion, I encountered experienced experts in the field of biodegradable compounds. Coperion delivered not only the necessary technology, but also shared the necessary process engineering expertise with me so that we can manufacture biodegradable compounds ourselves now in Benin.”
Peter von Hoffmann, General Manager Business Unit Engineering Plastics & Special Applications at Coperion, explained: “We’re thrilled that we could support Asahel Benin Sarl. in switching over their production in order to accomplish it more sustainably. Biodegradable compounds from renewable raw materials unite high production-technical demands with environmental sustainability. Particularly for manufacturers of short-lived household, industrial and agricultural products, these compounds represent a long-term, sustainable alternative to petroleum-based raw materials such as PE. Typical areas of application include single-use flatware, trash bags and trash can liners, food packaging, shopping bags, drinking straws, and agricultural films.”