Meeting sustainability goals with flexible packaging

In June 2010, AMI organized a conference on the latest developments in materials and production technology for Multilayer Packaging Films, which facilitate low weight product protection with longer shelf-life, thus reducing waste. Andrew Reynolds, Consulting Director at AMI described the growth in convenience packaging to cater for more single families, and the move to having both partners in employment. Currently global film markets consume 68 bln lbs of polyethylene, 13.3 bln lbs of polypropylene and other materials including polyester account for 7.7 bln lbs. The latter group is expected to grow at 7.7% pa. The food packaging industry has been changing with mergers of companies such as Amcor/Alcan and Berry Plastics/Pliant according to Kraft Foods. There are many challenges for such brand owners including the variety of global food products, the wide range of form-fill-seal equipment in use including vintage; increasing consumer demands such as snap and seal bags; sustainability and packaging reduction targets; shelf-life and quality concerns. There are moves from foil to metallized plastic, which need to be evaluated for barrier properties. As with all new products entering the food markets, the FDA is keen to ensure safe use: currently there is a case by case evaluation of nanotechnology. This situation has been reviewed by Keller and Heckman. European Union Food Contact Regulations Articles 12 and 13, which permit manufacturing “with substances other than those included in the Community list” for layers that are “not in direct contact with food”, specifically exclude “substances in nanoform”. Despite this, the value of the nano business in the food and beverage packaging industry is expected to reach US$7.3 bln by 2014. Specialty films offer the opportunity for weight reduction in packaging and a longer shelf-life for food, moving towards sustainable packaging goals. The next networking opportunities from AMI will take place in June 2011 in USA and in October 2011 in Germany.
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