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IBT (inert barrier technology)

Natural and fresh, with a long shelf life

With its “inert barrier technology” (IBT), Greiner Packaging has succeeded in bringing food shelf life for plastic cups to a whole new level. Whereas previous efforts focused on extending the shelf life of foods through ultra-high heating or adding preservatives, IBT now makes this possible without all that.

Even though consumers want longer shelf life, they remain very skeptical of the chemical change in foods. With our technology, we can offer food producers a packaging solution that improves both the shelf life and the quality of the products.

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How barrier technology works

This particular technology involves applying a barrier layer to plastic cups. And this is where the excellent properties of silicon dioxide come into play: The cups are first guided into a vacuum chamber. A silicon-containing gas and oxygen are then piped into the chamber while an electrode is used to generate plasma. This produces a coating on the cups (called a “covalent bond”) involving the sealed inner layer and the plastic. The SiOx layer produced is “chemically inert” and therefore non-reactive. The oxygen and moisture permeability is greatly reduced. The oxygen barriers consequently increase significantly compared with uncoated packaging – by a factor of approximately 20 for polypropylene (PP) cups and by a factor of approximately 30 for polystyrene (PS) cups. Since the barrier layer does not react to any external influences at all, the result is greatly improved aroma protection. The aroma and flavor of the filling are completely preserved.

Facts of interest

Barrier properties are generally understood to include not having any or having very slight permeability of gases, vapors, and aroma.

The molecular mass transport of liquid or gaseous substances through non-porous bodies is called permeation.

In the packaging industry, migration refers to molecules moving from the packaging to the food or vice-versa. The consequences of such a migration are changes in the taste of the food and a shortened shelf life. The EU has clear guidelines on which threshold values should be maintained in migration when it comes to food packaging.

Substances that do not react with potential reaction partners, such as water or air, under the intended  pplication conditions are described as “chemically inert”.

Unique technology – multiple awards 

The potential that offers IBT is underlined by several international awards we received so far for this innovative technology. In 2015 we were honoured with the Swiss Packaging Award, at the WorldStar Packaging Awards in Mumbai in 2016 we prevailed over 293 packaging projects from 35 countries. Thereafter we were handed over the prestigious President´s Award in gold by the World Packaging Organisation in Budapest – a great honour as this price is just given once among all winners of the World Star Packaging Award. However, this is no reason for us to rest on our success: The awards encourage us to constantly develop IBT.

WorldStar 2016 Winner

Eliminating waste and protecting the environment

This new technology is even winning consumers over when it comes to sustainability. The longer shelf life can reduce unnecessary food wastage. The coating has no impact on waste disposal or recycling, and therefore has advantages over conventional barrier packaging. The cups can be simply ground up. The grist is then re-used to manufacture new plastic cups. Coated packaging is a declared monomaterial. The SiOx coating also has no impact on the packaging weight because it is ultra-thin – around 500 times thinner than human hair. This is a factor not to be underestimated when it comes to logistics and CO2 emissions.

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