Taking the Next Step to Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost

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1 DuPont Packaging Profile Taking the Next Step to Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost W H I T E P A P E R Bernard Rioux DuPont Packaging Introduction Manufacturers of packaged goods everywhere face two constant challenges. One is to reduce their environmental footprint to the minimum. The other is to cut costs. And they must meet both challenges while pleasing customers with tough, attractive packages that protect and help sell their product. Millions of tons of polyethylene films go into billions of flexible packages each year. So eliminating even a fraction of a gram of PE in each package adds up to sizable benefits for the environment. It can also add up to lower packaging costs and higher profit margins. Polyethylene technology has come a long way over the past 20 years or so, and packaging engineers have taken full advantage of them to downgauge PE films. Today s PE-based flexible packages are thinner and lighter than ever. Most of them are fully optimized so further reductions in thickness and weight just won t be possible without something different. DuPont has recently promoted stiffer and tougher grades of DuPont Surlyn ionomer resin that can give your packaging that different something. As a matter of fact, technology innovations aiming at improving PE seal performance and optics over the past years have systematically resulted in softer and more flexible grades. Today, Surlyn remains the only high-performance sealant and crystal clear polyolefin which brings high stiffness and hardness. These Surlyn grades are up to five times as stiff as PE materials, enabling you to maintain package stiffness when replacing thicker PE layers with a thinner layer of Surlyn. In taking that next downgauging step, you achieve reductions in both packaging waste and cost.

2 Bernard Rioux White paper Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost - 2 Additionally, switching from PE to Surlyn keeps improving package integrity with more consistent hermetic sealing and tougher packages. For a better understanding of the environmental, cost and performance benefits of downgauging your packaging with Surlyn, consider two examples: 1) a pouch, or sachet, for dry products; and 2) a thermoformed package for processed meat. Dry mix gets a slimmer, less costly package In a paper-based pouch for a dry mix or salty snack, for example, a typical structure (Fig. 1) has a total thickness of 120 microns, or 4.7 mils. The usual PE sealing layer is 40 microns, or 1.6 mils, thick. If the sealing layer material is changed to Suryln, only 17 microns of material is required. That s less than half the thickness of the PE seal layer. The reduction in seal layer thickness caused no loss of the structure s stiffness, which is essential to the package s feel. That s because the Surlyn grade used is up to five times stiffer than premium metallocene-type PE sealing materials. DuPont packaging specialists can optimize sealing layer thickness and package stiffness for customers using proprietary software they have developed. The replacement of PE with Surlyn reduces total thickness of the dry mix pouch by a striking 23 percent. The change to Surlyn also delivers a 13 percent saving in material cost (Fig.2). In Europe, there is an additional saving on packaging tax as a reward for reducing the waste load. The 5% figure shown in Fig. 2 is for Germany. [2]

3 Bernard Rioux White paper Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost - 3 Surlyn provides more benefits besides reduced waste and lower packaging cost. As shown in Fig. 3, Surlyn produces stronger seals at lower sealing temperatures. Stronger seals reduce leakers. Lower seal temperature extends the life of sealing heaters and can permit faster speeds on packaging lines. Surlyn also has higher hot tack strength and a broader temperature range of effective hot tack strength than most PE sealants (Fig. 4). Given that sealing bar temperatures often fluctuate on packaging machines, the hot tack properties and wide sealing temperature range of Surlyn reduce the risk of leakers and can also allow faster line speed. As shown in Fig. 5, Surlyn delivers yet another benefit: improved puncture resistance. This can reduce damage during shipping and in-store handling, particularly in packages for sharp-edged products. The benefits of a seal layer of Surlyn for dry mix pouches extend to a wide range of other packaged goods, including snack foods, dairy products, fresh and processed meats, personal care products and more. [3]

4 Bernard Rioux White paper Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost - 4 Rethinking a bacon package Another example of structure re-engineering involves a thermoformed structure for a processed meat product such as bacon. A typical structure for the thermoformed bottom of such a package is shown on the left in Fig. 6. The sealing layer of linear low-density PE is 56 microns thick (to keep consistency with the dry foods one), or about 2.19 mils. Replacing PE with Surlyn permits a reduction of the sealing layer s thickness to 24 microns, instead of 56. Drawing on their expertise in the science of composite structures, DuPont specialists proposed other changes in the package structure to minimize thickness and reduce cost. With a relatively stiff layer of Surlyn on the inside of the structure, they shifted the structure s other stiff material, a PA6 barrier layer to the outside to take advantage of the stiffness-building principle of all composite structures (stiff layers on the outside, soft ones inside cf airplane wings). Then, to combat moisture-induced curling of the thermoformability to maintain thickness in corners, they recommended blending amorphous polyamide, DuPont Selar PA, into the PA6 layer. Selar PA modification also improves PA6 barrier properties and that change permits a reduction in thickness of the barrier layer. Last, a low-cost LDPE core layer also contributes to the structure s stiffness by keeping the stiff layers (PA and Surlyn ) apart and bulking up overall thickness. DuPont Nucrel functions as tie layers. The changes add up to a reduction in package thickness of more than 30 %. Material costs drop by 4 %, and European brand owners save on packaging tax, an additional 4% in the case of Germany. [4]

5 Bernard Rioux White paper Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost - 5 The switch to Surlyn also improves the toughness of the bacon package with more than a 25 percent increase in puncture resistance. This is in line with expectations. Switching from PE to Surlyn nearly always results in improved puncture resistance. Summary The packages for dry mix and processed meat described in this paper are just two examples of the many cases in which the use of Surlyn and other DuPont materials can allow you to reduce the environmental footprint and cost of your flexible packages. In fact, most of the flexible packaging structures can be successfully reengineered using Surlyn as a sealant. [5]

6 Bernard Rioux White paper Reduce Flexible Packaging Waste and Cost - 6 In addition, the wide hot tack and sealing temperature range of Surlyn can improve seal reliability with fewer leakers while its high puncture resistance makes it suitable for the demanding applications, like fresh meat against bones. That means increased productivity on your packaging lines and greater satisfaction among distributors, retailers and, best of all, consumers. To learn more about how Surlyn can work in your packages, please contact the nearest DuPont location and/or visit packaging.dupont.com for case histories, data sheets, contact information and more. packaging.dupont.com Copyright DuPont. The DuPont Oval Logo, The miracles of science, DuPont, Surlyn and Selar are registered trademarks or trademarks of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company or its affiliates. CAUTION: This information is based upon technical data that DuPont believes to be reliable. It is subject to revision as additional knowledge and experience are gained. DuPont makes no guarantee of results and assumes no obligation or liability in connection with this information. Disclosure of this information is not a license to operate or a recommendation to infringe a patent of DuPont or others. 12/ K [6]

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