Harpak-Ulma has announced the official launch of a new green packaging technology called PaperSeal packaging technology. The new packaging system is part of the company’s initiative to rethink the conventional packaging systems used across the food industry.
As concerns about the very considerable environmental price of single-use packaging grow, consumers nonetheless continue to embrace its convenience, a phenomenon that has been further underscored by the huge success of online shopping in recent months.
Proponents, moreover, point to its role in minimizing food waste and maintaining freshness at low cost.
And while efforts are directed at increasing the recyclability and recycling rates of single-use packaging, there is still much progress to be made.
The complexity and challenges associated with plastics recovery emphasise the importance of reducing overall plastics volume by substituting innovative, renewable single-use packaging material and methods.
As Jerry Rundle, Vice President of Sales for Harpak-Ulma’s tray packaging lines explained: “Entrenched producers are using hundreds of millions of plastic trays each year. They’re embedded in long-term supplier contracts and vested in the associated packaging equipment. To say that changing direction is difficult is a bit of an understatement – it’s like turning the proverbial aircraft carrier. There’s just too much industry resistance.”
Yet, new market entrants don’t have those constraints, he pointed out. “For example, new plant-based meat companies are adopting sustainable paper-based tray packaging materials and methods out of the gate because they’re not embedded in the status quo.”
Harpak-Ulma has turned to a new development from G.Mondini, an Italian, family-owned expert in tray sealing technology, for a solution. G. Mondini’s new line of PaperSeal trays, devloped in conjunction with Graphic Packaging International, offers a sustainable alternative to plastic trays, said Rundle, and provides offering brands and retailers the opportunity to replace Modified Atmosphere and Vacuum Skin Packaging plastic trays with a new barrier-lined paperboard alternative.
The new line was officially launched the new linen Europe in May 2019 and in North American markets this past February.
The trays are produced with renewable fiber sourced from sustainably-managed forests and can employ a variety of striking, innovative designs for retail presentation. Each tray utilises 80-90% paperboard and 10-20% film, depending on tray dimensions – substantially reducing plastic use and limiting base tray waste to just 2% – the lowest in the industry today. In addition, the tray film liner is easily separated from the paperboard after use, allowing for the paperboard portion to be recycled. A reinforced, one-piece flange design makes sealing surface strength and consistency equal to traditional plastic trays, as well as facilitating automated paperboard de-nesting – a pain point in other paperboard solutions. Trays can be stacked flat for logistics and inventory.
The design works easily in existing denesters and conveyors, said Carlo Bergonzi, Harpak-ULMA’s Product Manager for Tray Seal. “Also, PaperSeal trays are formed with pre-cut film – there’s no flop or film hanging over the tray – it’s a very clean look that also reduces film waste.”
It provides an attractive alternative to traditional plastic clamshell produce packaging, and offers advantages such as an ability to accommodate one-dimensional multi-compartment trays and add header/hanging features to the package.
“When you combine all that functionality, the dramatic reduction in material waste, plus the ability to pop it into your existing line inexpensively – it makes this an extremely pragmatic sustainable solution,” Bergonxi pointed out.
Rundle acknowledges that the North American market dynamics are different than European markets.
“We plan to work with some existing customers that already own a Mondini Tray sealer and want to trial sustainable technology on a new product line. It’s a low risk, low cost scenario. We can re-tool a line in 10-12 weeks and they can be producing a new, sustainable package style at moderate volumes pretty quickly,” he said.