Recycling, Convenience, Trend

Barrier technology can do more

11/10/2022 | 3 min read
Günter Ausserwöger

Plastic packaging has many advantages. Unlike glass and aluminum solutions, for example, plastic products are lightweight, easy to transport, and flexible in terms of design. However, many products in certain sectors, such as the food industry, require a special level of protection that cannot be guaranteed by ordinary plastic packaging. This is where a barrier comes into play: an additional layer that preserves shelf life. 

Consumers appreciate packaging that is practical, but they are also sensitive to concerns over sustainability and the use of preservatives. Rather than simply being a compromise, barrier packaging made of plastic actually offers real advantages in that the barrier guarantees shelf life, often making preservatives unnecessary. As well as satisfying growing consumer expectations, this technology also helps to prevent food waste. But how does the inclusion of a barrier affect a packaging item’s environmental footprint?

It is true that some barrier and standard plastic material combinations impair recyclability, with the best results achieved by monomaterial packaging. However, Greiner Packaging offers solutions that can overcome this disadvantage. “In many areas, packaging in which the barrier accounts for less than 5% of the material is still classified as highly recyclable, while also providing excellent product protection,” says Günter Ausserwöger, global director of business development at Greiner Packaging. “This unleashes additional opportunities for sustainable barrier solutions.”
 

Learn more about our barrier solutions

However, recyclability is just one of the key factors when it comes to sustainability – weight also has a major impact, especially on the carbon footprint and transportation costs. This is where plastic with barrier technology has an advantage over glass, for instance. Combined with its high level of consumer convenience and outstanding ability to achieve differentiation at the point of sale, there is a great deal to be said in favor of using plastic packaging. “We have accumulated a wealth of expertise in barrier packaging and can deliver specialized solutions to satisfy the need for differentiation and sustainability,” Ausserwöger adds. Below, we highlight a few examples from a selection of markets.

We have accumulated a wealth of expertise in barrier packaging and can deliver specialized solutions to satisfy the need for differentiation and sustainability.

Günter Ausserwöger, global director of business development at Greiner Packaging

Comparing different packaging solutions

Glass Tinplate/aluminum Plastic

Advantages:

  • High-quality appearance
  • 100% recyclable
  • Hervorragende 
  • Excellent barrier properties
  • Reusable options

 

  • Barrier properties protect products
  • Fully recyclable materials
  • Low weight 

 

  • Very good product protection
  • Light and unbreakable
  • Very low weight
  • Ample design scope to provide differentiation at POS

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy
  • High transportation costs 
  • Very high energy consumption
  • Risk of breakage

 

  • Very high energy demand
  • Clearance of virgin forest and rainforest to obtain raw materials

 

  • Circular economy not yet up and running across all categories
  • Currently still largely based on crude oil 

 

Ketchup, sauces, and dressings

A long shelf life without preservatives is in particular demand when it comes to ketchup, sauces, and dressings. For these products, Greiner Packaging combines an innovative one-step injection stretch blow molding process with multi barrier technology (MBT). This approach comeswith a number of advantages: low cost at high volume, a longer shelf life combined with high transparency, and robust resistance to high and low temperatures. Develey’s premium ketchup bottle is a good example of a bottle incorporating MBT. The strong oxygen barrier is an ideal solution as it protects the ketchup from external influences and guarantees an especially long shelf life – all without using preservatives. The highly transparent bottle means that the bright red ketchup is immediately visible on the shelf. The solution also has the advantage of reduced weight, resulting in a good carbon footprint and low transportation costs.

Pet food

Packaging for wet pet food can be a challenge. It is often filled under sterile conditions or at high temperatures, and the product needs to have a long shelf life – with or without the addition of preservatives.

Until recently, aluminum was commonly the packaging material of choice for pet food because of its good barrier properties, but that has changed now that Greiner Packaging has developed an alternative to conventional aluminum packaging. The company’s highly recyclable barrier solution is resealable and stackable. It, too, is based on multibarrier technology, enabling us to create a high oxygen barrier. Sterilization, pasteurization, and hot filling are no problem, making the plastic packaging ideal for the pet food market.

Ready meals

The range of ready meals launched by Šveda Quality S.R.O. is a good example of how barrier technologies can improve both the shelf life and sustainability of convenience foods. The Czech company partnered with Greiner Packaging to develop a new thermoformed PP-EVOH packaging, whose oxygen barrier extends the shelf life of the ready meals.

The new range is aimed primarily at families, students, camping enthusiasts, and anyone else with an interest in eating high-quality prepackaged meals on the go. The MBT-EVOH technology does more than just extend the shelf-life of products. The new packaging is also recyclable and therefore sustainable.

Baby food

Barrier solutions are also suitable for baby food, which is subject to especially strict regulations. Packaging in this segment must not only be visually appealing and practical, but also satisfy the highest quality standards and sustainability expectations. With this in mind, our in-house design and prototyping department, DesPro, has developed a K3®-F box for powdered baby formula. Helpfully, its innovative, patented tear-off system makes it easy to separate and recycle the cardboard wrap and plastic container. The packaging’s plastic content is significantly reduced, while the cardboard wrap maintains the container’s stability. Consumers enjoy the pleasant feel of the cardboard finish, which features an attractive design on all sides to command attention on the shelf. The plastic container and folded cardboard wrap can be delivered separately to the company that fills the packaging. Inventory can therefore be kept to a minimum despite a potentially wide variety of decoration variants.

Whitepaper

Different packaging materials have different levels of impact on the climate. Read our free “Tough Choices” white paper to find out which packaging solution delivers the best results for our climate.

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