Preamble-

Manufacturers in flexible packaging industry are exploring various ways to drive sustainability in flexible packaging. Extensive developments and machine trials are happening at different levels across the value chain of packaging. Be it right from Raw Material producers, Film Producers, Convertors till Brand Owners, all are aligned and focused on how to make the flexible packaging sustainable and / or eco- friendly.

Same polymeric family laminates, Monolayer laminates, Paper based packaging, In-Mould labelled cups / glasses-based packaging, +50micron thickness secondary packaging are few of the areas where our Indian manufacturers are putting efforts to make the packaging sustainable aligned with sustainability regulations.

Films Producers plays vital role in this sustainability journey having more responsibilities to develop specialty films / base substrates for any of the packaging that is being evaluated for sustainable packaging. Developing appropriate film or base substrate for any downstream process is the first step to start this sustainability journey.

 

Any kind of packaging primarily requires 3 main functional components:

1. Printability
For identification of brand name, necessary information about the packaged product

2. Barrier to moisture and gas
For maintaining shelf life of the packaged product

3. Sealability
For intact sealing to ensure no leakage and contamination

Developments in speciality films for catering above 3 components:

Printability
1. Heat Resistant BOPP* films as a direct replacement of PET layer from 3 ply laminates being used as top printable layer responsible for only printing.
*Heat Resistance of >= 170degC exhibits good performance on packaging lines with no jaws sticking or wrinkles issues while packaging especially in VFFS formats. Heat resistance is available in both coating and uncoated versions based on application requirements.

2. Heat Resistant High Barrier BOPP* films as a direct replacement of PET layer from 2 ply laminates being used as top printable layer responsible for both printing and oxygen barrier
*Heat resistance as defined above; High barrier is through offline coating method achieving oxygen barrier nearly 100 cc/sqm/day.

3. Surface printable BOPP* [UV and Conventional] films for monolayer applications. These films are for both packaging and labels applications.
*UV printing is generally achieved by offline coating method in BOPP. Monolayer films always depend upon application requirements, can be availed with Printing, Barrier and Sealing attributes altogether in single film.

4. In Mould Label films is the emerging trend in India towards sustainability where these labels are fused with the plastic containers completely in moulding process itself, thus making the complete container recyclable. Surface printable IML exhibits good printability with no littering of plastics as it can never be delaminated from the container.

Barrier

1. High barrier Metalized BOPP* films are being used extensively in biscuits packaging using 2-ply laminates Such segment induced with high heat seal strength and hot tack strength is also recommended for candies, cakes or other single unit packs. While non heat sealable high barrier metalized bopp films are recommended for shampoo and chocolates applications.
*High barrier in metalized bopp is available today with WVTR min 0.2 gm/sqm/day and OTR min 20 cc/sqm/day. Also available with heat sealability offering SIT min 95 degC and Seal Strength 1.0-1.5 kg/25mm

2. High barrier Transparent BOPP films are highly recommended for see thru packaging with improved barrier for enhanced shelf life.
Acrylic coated films are generally used for good sealability and enhanced aroma barrier. Conventional BOPP films offer OTR 2000cc/sqm/day while acrylic coated films can offer OTR 800cc/sqm/day which enhance the shelf life of the packaged product and retains the aroma flavour to a good level.
PVdC coated films are preferable choice where enhanced OTR level is desired. These films offer OTR in the range of 7-8 cc/sqm/day. Available in both BOPP and PET category.

3. Ultra-high barrier Metalized BOPP films are direct replacement of aluminium foil offering barrier as low as 0.1 both moisture and oxygen with much yield advantage than that of foil. Density of alu foil is 2.7 gm/cc while BOPP is 0.91 gm/cc. Other than sustainability, main USP of film Alu Foil replacement films is flex crack resistance that doesn’t allow pin holes, hence, safeguarding barrier loss.

Sealability

1. Acrylic Coated films are generally used where exceptionally high seal integrity is required in the packs. Acrylic Coating when sealed through heated jaws gets interlocked and hence, hermetic seal is formed. Acrylic coated films are highly recommended for overwraps especially in +50microns where heat transfer at envelope sealing area is a major concern due to multiple folds made. Besides, it gives exceptionally high aroma barrier as OTR is almost 50-60% better than conventional BOPP films.

2. Low SIT, High Seal Strength* films are tailored BOPP films especially designed for high speed packaging. Such films exhibit high hot tack strength which plays essential role while high speed packaging where dwell time between packs and jaws is very low.
*These films are available with min SIT level 80-85 degC, Seal Strength max. 1500gm/25mm and hot tack strength max. 500gm/25mm.

Above are the few of the thrust areas where film producers are meticulously putting their efforts, however, we are committed to create more and more solutions for sustainable packaging and therefore improving the environmental performance.

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About the author

Nitish Verma

Nitish Verma is a seasoned techno-commercial professional with 12+ years’ experience in flexible packaging industry having working experience in various functions like Quality Assurance, Technical Services, Production, Product Development, Application Development, Business Development and Brand Engagement.

Nitish possess Master degree in science and currently pursuing professional certificate programme in specialized sales and marketing from IIM Kozhikode. His main objective is always to provide new and innovative films solutions to the industry and keeps on innovating new ideas accommodating packaging and labels industr

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