Sabic, a global leader in diversified chemicals, has launched a sustainable packaging solution for frozen food which combines a new polyethylene (PE) grade with innovative film production technology. Compared to conventional blow PE film solutions, it offers significantly higher throughput and also has potential for down-gauging, making it attractive from both a commercial and sustainability standpoint.
The solution is based on a mono web TF-BOPE film structure which has a thickness of only 20 micrometers – an unprecedented benefit in this market. This thin gauge provides a potential packaging material reduction of approximately 35-50% compared to incumbent blown PE film. The reduced thickness of the packaging solution minimizes environmental impact and supports brand owners and retailers who are aiming to reduce their packaging material consumption. The new packaging solution is also 100% recyclable and fits mono-PE recycling streams.
This innovative packaging solution for frozen food is the result of Sabic’s close collaboration with film suppliers/extruders Ticinoplast and Plastchim-T, as well as packaging machine manufacturer Syntegon Technology.
Stephan Eltink, Sabic’s Business Director for PE in Europe, said: “At Sabic, we focus on delivering sustainable solutions and working collaboratively with our customers to help them achieve their ambitions and solve key industry challenges. By working closely with Ticinoplast, Plastchim-T and Syntegon, and by leveraging our innovation together, we have been able to introduce a new solution to the market that allows for more sustainable packaging without any compromise on productivity and consumer convenience.”
Pierre Hamelink, Syntegon’s Director of Business, Market and Sustainability Strategy, said: “This innovative packaging solution demonstrates the true value of collaboration. Stakeholders throughout the supply chain have had to work together to bring this to life: sustainability cannot be achieved single-handedly.” He added: “Our research and development efforts are driven by our mission to deliver sustainability – without compromise. Our new PHS 2.0 sealing technology can process thinner films whilst offering the same level of sealing quality, product protection and processing speed as conventional sealing technologies.
When replacing composite packaging materials on new and existing Syntegon machines with films made of Sabic’s BOPE, brand owners benefit from even more material and cost savings.”
TF-BOPE film made of Sabic® LLDPE BX202 material offers tear direction, low tear strength and provides an easy unidirectional opening. Compared to conventional solutions, it offers much better visibility of packaged products due to higher light transmission and lower haze. Meanwhile the high gloss delivers first-class design and aesthetics.
The 20 micrometer thin film was successfully tested on Syntegon’s vertical form, fill and seal machines, which feature the newly-developed PHS 2.0 sealing technology. This technology reduces the amount of clamped film by 25% and increases packaging speed by up to 25%. The thin TF-BOPE film also requires less cooling time which increases packaging speed even more. During the evaluations, a constant speed of 130 bags per minute was achieved.
For packers, TF-BOPE film delivers a robust sealing performance and increased productivity resulting from improved packaging speed. The thin gauge results in increased film roll efficiency which reduces logistic handling, storage space and transport costs.
For converters and brand owners, Sabic’s TF-BOPE film material offers a wide range of benefits that include good printability, cost-saving opportunities, higher yield, less consumption of plastic materials and lower packaging taxes due to reduced material consumption. It further reduces the package weight to product weight ratio, resulting in a more optimized packaging design.
The TF-BOPE film is based on Sabic LLDPE BX202 grade, which is available globally. TF-BOPE stands for Tenter Frame Biaxially Oriented Polyethylene. This is a PE grade that can run in tenter frame machines traditionally used to make Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) film. TF-BOPE has the potential to be used in new applications and markets which support the circular economy, where mono material solutions are required to enhance recyclability. TF-BOPE can replace multi material laminates into a mono-PE structure.
Sabic TF-BOPE polymer is part of the “Design for Recyclability” under TRUCIRCLE™ solutions and supports easy and full recyclability through enabling mono-PE material structure in multilayer tenter frame of flexible packaging, aiming to minimize waste. This new product can be also available as certified circular polymer from the company’s TRUCIRCLE portfolio. At Sabic, the TRUCIRCLE initiative encompasses the company’s circular materials and technologies, which include certified circular polymers from the chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste and certified renewable polymers based on bio-based renewable feedstock.
Pilot project for vegetable bags
SABIC and Schwarz Group cooperation
Chemical industry player SABIC has embarked on a pilot project with Schwarz Group, European retail store operator, for the use of transparent film bags made from certified circular polyethylene (PE) in vegetable packaging. The project will include various different PE technologies from SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio based on materials produced via feedstock recycling of mixed and used plastic. Through this project 1 kg bags for organic carrots, made of flexible film using SABIC’s certified circular polyethylene, will be introduced by the retail group into selected stores operating under the Lidl and Kaufland brands in Germany.
“Our comprehensive strategy is to make all Lidl and Kaufland brand plastic packaging as recyclable as possible by 2025, thereby reducing overall plastic consumption by 20 percent,” states Dietmar Böhm, Managing Director of GreenCycle, which serves as a waste management and recycling service provider for Schwarz Group and other companies. “We strive to close material cycles and save resources.”
“We have taken a big step forward on our journey towards building a truly circular plastics economy since we produced the first virgin-quality polymer materials from mixed used plastic back at the start of 2019,” explains Stephan Eltink, Director Polyethylene Europe at SABIC. “Our certified circular polymers are produced as part of our TRUCIRCLE portfolio that includes a wide range of polyethylene and polypropylene material grades, that can be drop-in solutions for applications in a variety of industries, including the food packaging industry. We are happy to welcome Schwarz Group among the growing number of downstream customers seeking to capture value from material sources that have traditionally been ignored or discarded.”
SABIC’s feedstock recycling process recovers the material value of mixed and used plastic, including previously difficult to recycle post-consumer plastics, which could otherwise be lost to landfill or incineration. The waste is converted into an oil, which then enters the production chain just like fossil-based feedstock to deliver new materials without compromising on quality.
The TRUCIRCLE portfolio, which showcases the company’s circular innovations and can help to provide manufacturers with access to more sustainable materials, spans design for recyclability, mechanically recycled products, certified circular products from feedstock recycling of used plastic and certified renewables products from bio-based feedstock.
Innovation in food safety
Macadamia processing in South Africa
Best in class food safety pasteurisation equipment has arrived in South Africa, following macadamia processing businessGreen Farms Nut Company’s (GFNC) announcement in February to invest in the Swiss-engineered Napasol technology.
“A first for South Africa, this scale of strategic commitment holds long term vision, paying dividends to farmers in securing future market access for macadamias. It underpins confidence in sector growth and the South African agricultural industry more broadly.”
“Five of the expected seven containers are in port in South Africa, with the remaining two to arrive this month. A new building to support this infrastructure is ready for planned instalment and testing,” says Allen Duncan, CEO, GFNC.
Previously, the probability of harm to human pathogen transmission through nuts has been poorly understood and underestimated. Awareness of this risk has grown together, incidentally, with rising consumption of nuts. Although pasteurisation is not new, it is, however, significant within the context of macadamias.
Additionally, the Napasolis custom built and its process is unique and entirely chemical-free. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has rampedefforts to clamp down on products entering the country. It mandates that all almonds consumed in the U.S be pasteurised. European regulatory bodies will follow suit. Collectively, these geographies speak for 80% of SA’s kernel (45% is exported to the US, with 35% going to Europe).
“We need to payheed to this call from regulatory bodies, the market and customers to avoid stifling the macadamia trade. Powerful lobby and food supply chain complexity means that not doing so will inevitably close core markets,” comments Alex Whyte, sales manager EMEA, Green & Gold Macadamias.
The geographical markets of the U.S and Europe are invested in longevity, relationships, and trust. They pay a premium for quality, reliability, and assurance. Product recalls are expensive, cause significant damage to reputation, and impact through the value chain from customer to retailer back to the farmer.
“The ingredients segment is a huge vertical growth market for macadamias. It is anticipated to play an integral role in long-term stability by absorbing the growing product supply. Food manufacturers will not accept an unpasteurised product, this is a huge barrier to product development,” continues Whyte.
Commercial farming success is materially linked to market demand, without consumption the industry will cease to exist. Responding to legislative, food safety protocol and consumer need secures security and access. This means achieving sustainable prices back on the farm.
Saturated steam is applied to kernels in a partial vacuum at low temperatures, a method that has proven to be most effective at killing Salmonella and other pathogens, at a Log 5 reduction. The operation does not wet the nuts and drying is not necessary, translating to additional water and electricity savings. The product moves through a fully automated system in bins through to packaging. Remarkably reducing nut damage and contamination. The raw quality of the macadamia kernel is protected, and shelf-life is improved.
Foremost this technology places South Africa, already the world’s largest producer of macadamias, firmly on the world stage of being a reliable quality producer and branding South Africa’s macadamias as premium and deserving of the best prices. “Signalling confidence in the domestic industry, boosting infrastructure and private sector investment into the country. It ensures a direct line to customers and maximises profit back to farmers,” concludes Duncan. In its support to the industry, GFNC will offer a service to toll pasteurise for other macadamia businesses.
Initiative for consumer goods
Packaging with renewable plastics
Chemical industry company SABIC today announced that Orkla, Nordic brand owner in business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce with foods, snacks, food care for sport and food ingredients, has launched its first chips packaging using renewable polypropylene (PP) polymer from SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio. The sustainable material is derived from tall oil, a residual product from the Nordic forestry industry, and is converted into a Biaxially Oriented PolyPropylene (BOPP) by IRPLAST, an Italian vertically integrated manufacturer of specialty S-BOPP films and converter of printed shrinkable BOPP roll-fed labels and PSA tapes. In Orkla’s chips bags, the material solution helps lower the carbon footprint of the three partners’ value chain in half compared to the use of traditional non-renewable plastics.
“We want to make it easier for consumers to make environmentally conscious choices,” says Sara Malmström, Sustainability Manager at Orkla Confectionery & Snacks. “Packaging is an important part of all our products, and plastic packaging in particular can have a considerable impact on both the environment and climate. We are proud to be first in the Swedish market to put chips in bags made with plastics based on bio-renewable feedstock on the snack shelf,” she adds.
Orkla had been looking for an innovative and agile converter capable of meeting its sustainability targets and supplying a renewable film that would help them enhance the sustainability profile of their packaging. They identified IRPLAST, with whom SABIC had already been successfully collaborating in various projects for the development of film products in compliance with EU Packaging and Waste Packaging Directives. Next to Natural Oriented PolyPropylene (NOPP) films from certified renewable PP polymer, IRPLAST also offers an S-BOPP (Simultaneously oriented BOPP) film range branded as LOOPP. The NOPP and LOOPP products both have received independent third party International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS).
Naomi Lunadei, Sustainability Manager at IRPLAST, explains: “We firmly believe that sustainable growth must become a priority for businesses producing and converting plastic packaging materials. As a packaging producer, we are well aware of our responsibilities in making the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals a reality, and we are very committed to the challenge. Our two new lines demonstrate the determined route we have embarked on with our partner. While our NOPP products help reduce the carbon footprint of flexible packaging, the LOOPP range opens a door for customers to enter the circular plastics economy which is being progressively mandated by legislators worldwide.”
In contrast to comparable BOPP film from traditional fossil fuel, every kilogram of renewable NOPP packaging takes more than 2 kg of CO2 emissions out of the environment. The first set of new Orkla packages in NOPP flexible film includes 275-gram bags of Grill, Sour Cream & Onion, Dill & Chive and Salted Chips, and prominently displays the 50 percent CO2 reduction to consumers. Orkla Confectionery & Snacks Sweden has an ambition to gradually introduce similar bags for all their snacks packages.
“We are proud of implementing our certified renewable PP polymer in a flexible packaging,” states Mark Vester, Circular Economy Leader at SABIC. “The materials offer drop-in solutions for replacing fossil-based plastics in the packaging industry with no compromise on food safety. With our certified circular and renewable polymers, we are aiming to create a sustainable value chain where we collaborate with downstream customers like IRPLAST and Orkla in the use of animal-free bio-based feedstock or in the reuse of post-consumer recycle, thereby seeking to capture the greatest value from sources that have traditionally been ignored or discarded.”
SABIC’s offering spans from design for recyclability services and mechanically recycled materials to certified circular products from chemical recycling of used plastics and certified renewable polymers from bio-based feedstock. The company’s polymers are based on a mass balance approach. This widely recognized international sustainability certification scheme verifies that the mass balance accounting follows predefined and transparent rules. In addition, it provides traceability along the supply chain, from the feedstock to the final product.