Fachpack – Film + Paper = Exhibition
The Fachpack trade fair, one of the first live meetings took place in the German trade fair landscape at the end of September after the enforced hiatus in 2020 and early 2021. It has become clear that the demand for recyclability – regardless of the material – is constantly creating new hardware solutions. Paper-based packaging materials are increasingly “improved” for a wide variety of applications. Film manufacturers present new mono-material solutions for optimized recyclability of flexible packaging. And – chemical recycling is placed in many places and presented as a theme of the future by some actors of pilot projects.
Paper-based materials are essential
For Mondi, a neutral statement is important when it comes to the issue of paper or plastic. The value chain and the product to be packaged are so unique to each customer that no generally valid statement can be made as to which packaging material to use. In particular, the environmental impacts of the two packaging materials must be considered as fully as possible. This is only possible if a specific application is defined and a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of paper or plastic alternatives is performed. Currently, such a study is being carried out for kraft paper in the field of pallet protection. Instead of film wrapping, paper wrapping could also be used. The results of the LCA of Mondi’s project with Italian machine builder ACMI will be released in November.
Constantia Flexibles also presented a wide range of products at the show. Its complete range of mono-material PE with the EcoLam line, the new EcoVer material line as well as the products of the EcoPaperPlus line clearly show that a single suitable packaging is not achievable. EcoVer is a mono-PP solution, available in different barrier levels, including thermal resistance. The packaging solution includes an improved outer layer combined with a sealing layer that begins to seal at low temperatures to allow a wide sealing window. The mono-PP structure material is recyclable in the mixed polyolefin stream.
Improved recycling options with single materials
In addition to four new single-material BOPE solutions, Jindal Films Europe focus on solutions to switch from difficult to recycle laminates containing, for example, PET, aluminum foil or paper, to mechanically recyclable PP, PE or PO (polyolefin) based laminates for flexible packaging. An example of such applications is heat resistant OPP film improved to replace PET films to meet the needs of autoclave sterilization applications. The new Bicor MR100 development for the outer band in autoclave sterilization applications is expected to help minimize shrinkage and visual distortion during heat sealing and autoclaving operations when using autoclave PP-based laminates.
Südpack, Ochsenhausen, Germany, also presented its recyclable mono-materials with its Pure-Line product family. The pure line offers solutions in PP, PE and PET, classified as recyclable in many countries. It is possible to optimally design the hardware structures to meet the requirements of a wide variety of applications. The spectrum ranges from thermoforming films to lidding films and high barrier films for the production of doypacks. Another key focus was packaging printing – thanks to the new SPQ (Sustainable Print Quality) technology, drastically reducing the consumption of ink, solvents, production waste and energy while simultaneously improving the print quality is in progress.
Film and paper machines
An option to face the choice between paper and film packaging was found at Syntegon. The company presented an integrated system consisting of a vertical forming, filling and sealing machine SVE 3220 DZ and an Elematic 2001 WAH Case packer that produces upright bags of pasta from recyclable paper and places them in shipping crates. In addition to using mono-materials for all common bag styles, the SVE 3220 DZ processes paper to wrap products in pillow, flat bottom or doy bags with up to 311mm standing height. This makes it suitable for packaging confectionery, as well as baked goods, cookies and powdered products.
The transformation of plastic packaging into paper-based packaging is also a task that has been launched among users in the Indian market, they said. A number of inquiries have already been received regarding the paper packaging, which is mainly tested on horizontal form, fill and seal machines at Syntegon’s production site in Verna, Goa.
Another focus in the machinery industry is the forming of paper-based containers. Syntegon pursues this objective within the framework of a cooperation with BillerudKorsnäs – “FiberForm is the natural alternative where plastic was the norm. Enabling embossing up to ten times deeper than plain paper, resulting in impactful 3D effects, ”says Simon Johansson, project manager at BillerudKorsnäs, Sweden. The new packaging system is ideal for single servings and products that would typically be packaged in blisters. In addition to cosmetics or samples, the paper capsules can be used to package dry, bulky or viscous foods with a thin barrier layer. Whether it’s spreads, margarine or cookies in paper trays, the new TPU paper forming machine offers manufacturers a range of fill and seal systems for durable packaging at throughput up to 15 000 pods of shaped paper per hour.
The Koch Pac-Systeme machine manufacturer, Pfalzgrafenweiler, Germany, has established itself in the market as an expert in blister packaging. Here too, paper is the topic of the day. With a formed cardboard packaging – in the example of the salon for razors – the company was able to show that even demanding geometries with convex and concave elements, steep wall angles and small radii, typical previously in the spectrum blister sheets, can be made in a one-step 3D forming process, even with flat paper blanks.
Kiefel, Freilassing, Germany, also opens its range to paper forming. As a specialist in thermoforming and plastic assembly technology, the company has opened up the additional business area of fiber thermoforming internationally. “We are delighted to be able to showcase the manufacturing process on a demo system. In addition, we provide an overview of our research and development processes as well as our machine solutions, ”says Uwe Heer, Sales Manager for Packaging.
Kiefel offers two complementary systems – the Natureprep KFP for high-quality stock preparation of natural fiber pulp and the Natureformer KFT series, on which various fiber products, e.g. bowls, cups, secondary packaging for electronics , coffee capsules or flower pots can be made. The raw material of fibrous products is pulp or paper dissolved in water. This is shaped, pressed, dried and made into dimensionally stable packaging that can be recycled into the paper cycle or even composted. This means that they offer an alternative to plastic packaging, depending on the application.
Chemical recycling in sight?
Sustainability is the big keyword which could be understood not only as the motto of the show, but also as a trend within the industry. With the mentioned keywords it has been possible to draw a line between the use of paper-based solutions that serve valuable recycling cycles and mono-material films that are increasingly being marketed precisely to this effect.
Another strategy of obtaining new raw materials from plastic residues has been positioned rather casually by various players. Südpack, for example, presented a pilot project on chemical recycling in a joint venture with Carboliq, Remscheid, Germany, which uses cracking to produce polymers from residual plastics that are expected to have the same properties as virgin materials.
Especially for plastic fractions whose degree of contamination is too high for mechanical recycling, optional chemical recycling can save the valuable plastic from food use of thermal recycling, i.e. incineration. Chemical recycling was also visible as a keyword in the presence at the show of some other exhibitors – it remains open in what time horizon and what options will actually be open with it.