Skip to content

Eco-Friendly Packaging: What You Need to Know Before Switching to a More Sustainable Material

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Packaged with a Green Thumb

With trillions of dollars being invested globally to reduce humanity’s impact on the environment, it is safe to say that being “eco-friendly” is not just a trend. Consumers, now more conscious than ever about their personal impact on the environment, are actively choosing brands that reflect their own values, even if doing so means spending more in the process.

Emerging customer desires for “eco-friendly” products are especially upending the food and beverage market where both products and packaging are treading new ground in an industry heavily concerned with product shelf life. Organic foods and beverages, as well as recyclable, biodegradable and compostable materials, pose a significant challenge to shelf life, especially when customer expectations regarding product shelf life have not shifted alongside the move to more environmentally friendly materials.

Some proven materials include Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) films and papers, aluminum, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Linear Low Density Polyethene (LLDP). Recyclable packaging has a long history, and while not always entirely effective for reuse, continues to provide a more proven path to sustainability without necessitating an investment in emergent technologies.

As a packaging solution, biodegradable bioplastics are a mixed bag but offer a potentially tremendous environmental upside. Derived from plant sugars, this biobased technology can utilize a variety of biological raw materials that can be converted over for use in different types of packaging. Other eco-friendly packaging solutions include organic fabrics – like hemp or palm leaves – as well as bio-based materials that have a polymetric matrix with enhanced mechanical and barrier properties. Many of these technologies are at a nascent stage, continuing to be refined into scalable products for industrial use. This development cycle requires accurate and repeatable testing to ensure product quality, as well as solutions to address the often-porous nature of organic materials that hinder shelf life and limit overall testing capabilities.

Barrier Testing Matters

The role of packaging is to protect a product for storage, sale, and use. In the case of food and beverages, this extends to the development of material solutions that ensure that a product meets a certain threshold for its shelf life. It is imperative that in the development of new materials or when switching to more sustainable barriers, such as those used in more eco-friendly packaging, that products be subject to evaluation to ensure that their barrier properties meet the criteria to withstand the converting and packing process as well as meet set standards for suitable product shelf life and practical applications.


 

As a global leader in gas measurement instruments, AMETEK MOCON provides technologies that assist you with the precise measurements required for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging. Our MOCON permeation instruments are used to measure the oxygen, water vapor, and CO2 transmission rates through barrier films and packages. Our commitment to package testing takes us from QC at your lab to the packaging line where MOCON instruments actively assist with the QA of each product leaving your facility. We are committed to always providing the accurate and repeatable results that keep your business moving forward.

Among our OX-TRAN®, Aquatran®, and PERMATRAN® permeation instruments, our PERMATRAN-W® 101K is unique in its ability to test breathable barriers, such as porous and breathable polymer membranes, polymer coated thin paper, and thin polymer nonwovens, not easily tested by other methods. This offers a potential solution during the R&D process when other methods for permeation testing are unavailable.

Interested in Learning More?

We recently published an application note focused on coated paper packaging highlighting the difficulties in testing coated paper and the potential solutions available to accurately test barrier performance, including the use of another MOCON instrument called the OpTech-O2 Model P prior to utilizing an instrument like the PERMATRAN-W® 101K.