Elanders UK has been looking at the best materials to use for flexible packaging in 2015:
Flexible packaging, such as pliable plastic bags and wrappers, has long been used for storing food items. In addition to confectionary, baked goods and snack food companies, we are seeing more and more companies starting to use this type of packaging.
The ‘green’ aspect has been pushed more convincingly in recent years. Where glass jars have previously been the industry standard in the coffee market, flexible packaging ‘eco-refill’ packs have become much more popular over the last few months, not least because it allows companies to offer their products at a significantly lower price.
With a reputation as the ‘Green Manufacturer of the North East’ in 2013, Elanders has plenty of experience printing using flexible packaging, and it was able to help eco-conscious brand Good Day Organics to commit to using 100 per cent recyclable packaging boxes.
Elanders UK is part of Elanders Group, which has been in operation for over 100 years. It offers global solutions for print & packaging, supply chain management and e-commerce to help companies improve performance and meet key objectives.
Low-density polythene (LDPE) pouches have been widely adopted by sports drinks manufacturers because of the cheap and flexible material. It is also shatter-proof, which is a huge benefit to reducing breakages during transit. Industry experts say that flexible plastics that offer a barrier against moisture and aroma will continue to be a huge selling point with brands and developments in antimicrobial packaging also go a long way towards improving food safety and extending shelf life.
Previously, there have been issues with pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) losing their tack at low temperatures and deforming at high temperatures. But, with different types of PSA being used, the range of materials suitable for flexible packaging is expanding – films, papers, foil, fabrics and foam are all being used in 2015.
So what’s next for flexible packaging? A push to improve the recyclability of materials is likely. Currently, coffee packets are constructed using a plastic outer wrap around a foil inner, and while hot stamping on foil doesn’t affect the recyclability of it, it cannot always be processed by recycling plants. As for the plastic wrap, over half a million tonnes of flexible plastic packaging ends up in landfill every year.
We’ve begun to see early signs of pressure sensitive packaging (that can ‘heal’ itself when torn or cut) being developed at Stanford University. Not only could this be used to substitute vacuum packaging, but also it could be that self-healing packaging will make re-using materials easier and more cost effective.