What future for dairy products?


Weakingen, Germany-based processing and packaging company Syntegon Technology told DairyReporter they are working on innovations that make packaging for yogurt, dips and desserts safe and hygienic, even when using paper.

What’s the next step for plastic packaging?

Going forward, Syntegon, formerly the packaging division of the Bosch Group, believes that manufacturers will increasingly rely on renewable raw materials and reduce the plastic content of packaging.

Although paper cups have a better ecological footprint, they are more sensitive. Moisture and heat can damage the material. New technological solutions are needed to facilitate smooth handling on filling machines. Syntegon works with its customers to implement these technologies on existing and new machines.

For example, plastic snap-on lids for yogurt pots will gradually disappear from the refrigerated section and be replaced with new solutions that reduce the overall plastic content of the packaging. New packaging concepts are being developed as an alternative to snap-on lids for chilled drinks.

Some initial approaches include reusable lids or detachable lids with built-in drinking openings.

This eliminates the need for plastic lids with beverage openings. In addition to reducing plastic content and improving recyclability, the environmental impact of packaging also extends to reducing carbon emissions through lower packaging weight and less product waste. In the future, cup solutions for viscous products based on plastic-paper mixtures as well as single-material solutions will replace composite materials.

Syntegon said that for some products the issue of sustainability is easier to implement, while for others, such as liquid and viscous foods, technological developments are needed.

How can collaboration support the development of new innovations?

Syntegon said its goal is to develop new technical solutions that allow the use of sustainable materials on new and existing filling lines. The company tests materials for machine suitability and hygienic properties in its liquid feed laboratory in Königsbrunn.

Together with partners, Syntegon assesses the adjustments necessary to adapt existing machines to new requirements. Product safety and sustainability don’t have to be mutually exclusive, the company added.

Improve sustainability by testing new technologies

In the past, plastic was the most commonly used packaging material because it is sturdy and easy to handle. A major challenge in the transition to sustainable materials is to keep machine performance high and to minimize rejection of defective packaging.

Paper solutions tear or wrinkle faster. The handling of products in the machine and during transport is therefore much more difficult than with plastic cups. In addition, the machines must be able to process conventional materials as well as new durable materials.

Syntegon_Ilona Junker
As a member of Syntegon’s sustainability team, Ilona Junker develops new technical solutions for filling machines, enabling the use of sustainable packaging materials for liquid and viscous food products.

Syntegon said it is researching and developing new technologies to address these issues. It evaluates various processing parameters of possible packaging materials, such as recyclable single-material paper or PP films, to answer questions such as how the cups are unstacked, how they fit into the backing plate and how the material reacts to temperature differences.

The Liquid Food Lab studies performance, also assesses germ reduction and tests product fillings. These tests predict the necessary machine adjustments and sensory effects on the product to support customers in their transition to sustainable materials.

The highly flexible machines allow for quick and easy changes between different materials – a key point when multiple products need to be packaged and sealed on one machine. For this reason, Syntegon said it is working on individual solutions with customers to modernize existing systems. The new lines are equipped with the solutions developed and become standard.

Syntegon said its goal is to develop technical solutions for filling liquid and viscous food products in sustainable paper or mono-material packaging. This includes new technologies for sterilization, sealing and handling of machines. The company added that parameters such as new materials, technological advancements, digitization, new regulations, but also regional conditions influence the future development potential of environmentally friendly packaging.

Syntegon Technology has more than 6,100 employees at 30 sites in more than 15 countries. Its portfolio includes stand-alone machines, as well as complete systems and services. In the food industry, the portfolio includes process technology for dairy products, as well as confectionery, dry foods and frozen foods.

About Thomas B. Countryman

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