During his Propak Africa 2019 seminar presentation, industry veteran, Joe Foster, focused on the latest challenges, developments and opportunities in the flexible packaging sector.
ALTHOUGH plastics are currently experiencing a backlash, it’s important to discuss the benefits that these packaging formats provide. Benefits include durability, less energy consumption during production, product protection and shelf life extension.
One of the most prominent examples of progression in flexible packaging applications is the inclusion of oxygen scavenging films, which has eliminated the need for an internal sachet and cut down on the production of these non-recyclable items. As the oxygen is absorbed into the film, it helps to almost double the product’s shelf life.
Consumers are also faced with a lot of confusion in terms of what they hear, see, and are told by governments, supermarkets and the media about plastics packaging and sustainability measures.
Compostable packaging has, for instance, gained in popularity recently. Compostable feedstocks, however, present issues such as competing with food crops, reduced barrier properties (which increases food waste levels), and insufficient supply to meet demand levels.
Non-bio-plastics are also not necessarily recyclable, even if the pack displays a polymer identification code.
These challenges are opening doors to environmental innovation opportunities, including cellophane, fully-compostable flexible packaging, recyclable stand-up pouches, and compostable clips.
Dissolvable or edible plastic is also causing a frenzy but only time will tell if it becomes a viable solution. With these kinds of inventions, it’s better to separate facts from fiction to make truly informed decisions
In terms of innovative concepts, the doy pack represented the first revolutionary pouch breakthrough for the flexible packaging industry and, its popularity has gained momentum since 1968. It has been followed by flat bottom pouches ‘the new carton’ and shaped pouches with dispensing systems, which are becoming the new norm.
Although the shape of flat bottom pouches is similar to that of cartons their flexibility results in improved space efficiency, as well as reduced storage and transportation costs.
In the competitive FMCG sector, shaped pouches are a great way for products to stand out in-store. There’s no end to the type of shapes Foster Packaging, which celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2018, can create to meet various function and design needs. Our bamboo steamer pouch, designed to steam the product in the microwave, is a prime example. The pouch resembles a traditional dumpling steamer and provides the same functionality. A laser score enables consumers to tear the top off easily, a window to see the contents and a fill line for the water.
Zipping up advances
Moving on to zippers and closures, the latest developments range from child-proof and sensory to fragrance and full 360° zippers. Child-proof zips are a safety necessity in flexible packaging for household cleaning products such as dishwashing detergents.
A sensory zipper can be used for consumers to confirm that a product is sealed properly via a sensory feature such as a click sound.
Fragrance zippers release a scent when opened and are quite effective in enhancing aroma-intense products like coffee.
360° zippers provide consumers with increased convenient product access and easy pouring.