Want to improve your Frozen Food Packaging sustainability? Simple Do's and Dont's for your business

As sustainable packaging moves to the forefront, we’ve been very vocal about our most recent innovation, FLEX R (Post-Consumer Recycled Packaging). But just like there are multiple ways to Rome, there are many different types of sustainable packaging. And just like every pot has a different matching lid, so do producers have different packaging requirements. In today’s blog we’re taking a specific look at Frozen Food producers: and matching frozen food packaging. Furthermore we're explaining why PCR might not be a good solution for them, despite it being a great product for many other industries.

So what makes frozen food nonsuitable for our previously mentioned sustainable champion? It’s a food product. And while PCR has many benefits, regulations do not allow recycled packaging to come into direct contact with food products. Furthermore, due to migrations, laminated packaging that purely uses PCR for its outer layer is still a large question mark as well. 

So if not PCR, then what? When it comes to frozen food there is one benefit: shelf-life is relatively easy. Partly because of the type of product that generally gets frozen. But mostly because frozen products tend to get cold, and bacteria tends to ‘chill’ when it’s cold. This benefit makes sustainable packaging a lot more feasible, as we won’t need to add different barrier materials that complicate packaging recycling. 

The rule of thumb within packaging is simple: if it’s made from one ‘family’ it’s recyclable. The amount of inks (and other additives) used are so large that they generally present less than 5% of a packaging’s volume and thus tend to dissolve during recycling. If however you make a packaging concept that consists of different materials (f.e. a PET/PE laminate) it gets very difficult to recycle. These types of packaging concepts often simply get incinerated which is much less sustainable.

And this is where the Frozen Food packaging comes into play. Because of the low processing temperatures, frozen food generally has a better shelf-life, and can thus use packaging without extremely high-barriers. Because of this Frozen Food producers tend to gravitate towards PE packaging. PE is efficient and affordable, suited for low temperatures, and can achieve very impressive production speeds. And whether you opt for a single-layer PE film, or a PE/PE laminate film, it’s easily recyclable as long as you design it for recyclability!

So based on these considerations, applicable frozen food producer should be looking at:

- Migrating their packaging to a uniform packaging structure

- Downsizing their packaging thickness as much as possible

- Designing their packaging to be recycled, especially important when it comes to the used inks and colors.

If on the other hand you are a frozen food producer that still uses a packaging concept made from different materials, or is planning to release a new product in such a packaging concept, we’d advise you to think about this once more. Unless you have a valid reason for needing such a concept you’d be better off future-proofing your concept right now: as prevention is much better than repairing. And if you’re looking for some more guidance or simply want a sparring partner for your frozen food launch we’d be happy to talk: frozen food packaging is one of our core segments at Flexoplast.  

 

 

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