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Cartons have the capability to conserve

Part 1 of a 2 part debate on benefits of materials - paper vs metal, in this case for packaging tomato, or produce. First up is Cartons, answers provided by SIG

Viewpoint – SIG for Cartons

Cartons have the capability to conserve

Malcolm Allum, managing director of SIG Combibloc, discusses the benefits of the carton as a format for long-life packaging applications

Food manufacturers certainly have many established options when it comes to long life packaging, however a modern, forward thinking approach and alternative is what many are switching to. Both our food aseptic and combisafe retortable carton packs provide optimal protection over a prolonged time period, are convenient to use, have an excellent environmental profile and are flexible and cost effective for the manufacturer.

As well as providing convenience for consumers, carton packs are extremely efficient regarding transport and logistics. They are shipped to the manufacturers as flat folded sleeves which means the loading volume of a truck can be used to maximum benefit, having a positive impact on both cost and the environment. Even when our cartons are filled and transported to retailers, trucks are carrying 95% product and only 5% packaging.
Food manufacturers are able to fill various products on a single filling machine with quick and efficient changeover of pack volume and design. Optimal product protection, stackability and storage space efficiency due to its rectangular shape, plus long life storage, benefits both retailer and consumer.
With aseptic carton packs, it is possible to fill products containing chunks of up to 25mm in size and individual fibres can be up to 40mm long. It’s all about being flexible and a wide range of formats are available for different foods, from small carton packs of 150ml to 2 litre foodservice packs.

It’s also the only retortable carton packaging available which offers the option of fully rotational sterilisation during the autoclave process, delivering optimum temperature distribution inside the carton pack. In just a few steps, the filling machines can be adjusted for a specific volume for unparalleled volume flexibility.
Perforation openings mean the top of the carton can simply and safely be torn off by consumers without the use of scissors, opening the top of the carton pack completely. This allows easy pouring, and even spooning, to remove all the contents hence minimising food waste and provides a safe and secure alternative to glass and cans.
In a recent life-cycle assessment carried out by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU), the environmental impacts of the main long-life food packaging solutions in current use were compared. The result, compared to food metal cans, glass jars, retortable pouches and plastics pots, is that the carton has the best environmental performance. Compared to the other packaging solutions included in the study, using carton packs can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 63%, and consumption of fossil resources by up to 69%. According to the study, the main drivers behind the environmental impacts of a packaging solution are the material used, and the quantity of the material.

Our carton packs are made from up to 75% renewable raw materials and are fully recyclable. We are a member of ACE, whose UK subsidiary has been focused on raising kerbside collection, which is currently 57% and is expected to increase.
Food products packaged in our carton packs are safely protected from light and air and retain their high quality, taste and nutrition, without the need for refrigeration or added preservatives.

Marketing Benefits
As well as taking up 30% less space than food metal cans on supermarket shelves, cartons also have a high visual impact, as the handy shape and design catches the eye of discerning shoppers. The surface of the carton leaves ample space for clever design, graphics and information panels.
QR codes are one of the top trends for 2014. The printing process easily allows the incorporation of QR codes. There’s only so much space on the packaging, so QR codes are the ideal way to link the consumer to further information, promotions and the brands social media networks in a convenient and timely manner via a smartphone. This gives the brand owner the opportunity to create an eye catching on pack design without having to worry about cramming too much information on the actual packaging. The online information is of course easily updated and refreshed so information is always current.

Barriers to Entry
In markets such as France and Spain, cartons are readily accepted for products such as soups, broth and stock. There are future opportunities here in the UK for these types of foods, as consumers already buy foods such as custard and sauces in a carton as well as a can.
Tomatoes, beans and pulses have gone down well in the UK and the high quality is appreciated, for example Tesco’s Organic range.
Finally, all packaging materials and spouts from us are solely manufactured from high quality raw materials and they are BPA free.