Fiber-based frenzy? DS Smith and Krones serve up shrink-wrap alternative for bottled drinks
26 Sep 2022 --- DS Smith and Krones are partnering on a fiber-based alternative to shrink-wrap for PET multipack bottles. The Eco carrier was demonstrated during the Drinktec 2022 trade show in Germany this month on Krones’ Variopac Pro machine, which can integrate seamlessly into customer production lines for “minimum disruption and maximum efficiency.”
The fiber-based carrier can be applied using Krones’ mechanization system for its LitePac Top range for PET bottles. The system uses corrugated board clips to hold PET bottles together and is particularly suitable for a bottle range from 1 L to 1.5 L in a multipack function of 2x2 or 3x2.
“Our customers and consumers are demanding more environmentally sustainable solutions to replace problem plastic while integrating seamlessly with their production lines,” says Marc Chiron, sales, marketing and innovation director for packaging at DS Smith.
“Through our work with Krones, we are able to help our customers reduce their plastic usage, increase recyclability and transition to the circular economy by providing fully recyclable fiber-based alternatives through an easy-to-implement solution.”
The Eco Carrier is fully customizable, enabling brands to incorporate their branding onto the cardboard bottle carrier and paper band.
The solution also offers substantial environmental benefits beyond plastic replacement. Designed using DS Smith’s innovative Circular Design Metrics, the Eco Carrier can deliver a 71% reduction in carbon footprint compared to plastic shrink-wrap, full recyclability and be produced from 100% renewable sources.
According to Innova Market Insights, 15% of EU consumers claim to have stopped using single-use plastics since the EU implemented its Single Use Plastics Directive in July last year. Moreover, 39% say that they are noticing a gradual decrease in their single-use plastics usage.
DS Smith recently announced it has removed over 313 million pieces of harmful plastic from circulation in the past two years by replacing plastics with fiber-based alternatives in the design stages of development.
Variopac supports fiber transition
Meanwhile, Krones’ Variopac Pro solution is designed for easy integration into customer production lines. First trials in the field have shown that the Eco Carrier application is fully compatible with Krones Variopac Pro and meets line performance demands.
We spoke to Tobias Gut, head of drypart experts packaging technology for Krones at Drinktec, about the Variopac Pro’s numerous benefits.
“There is a global discussion around sustainability – it is a big phrase interpreted in several different ways around the world and by different customers. At Krones, we believe it’s not only about considering plastics in a new way but also the machinery,” he explained.
“Our customers are in a transformation stage – plastic is heavily debated, but customers are not always sure if paper is a better option from a cost perspective. We want to offer intelligent machinery that can produce products of the past and future – the Variopac can produce new types of secondary packaging for cans but also all the conventional formats.”
“We also focus on how our machines contribute to the carbon footprint. The Variopac Pro has an energy load that is only 25% of conventional shrink packaging machines. Also, the shrink tunnel is not needed if customers choose paper-based packaging options.”
At Drinktec, Dr. Sven Fischer, head of corporate R&D at Krones, spoke to PackagingInsights about the company’s “visionary” solutions and how it is collaborating with customers to improve environmental sustainability standards across the industry.
WestRock and Graphic Packaging International also showcased fiber-based multipack carriers at the trade show.
By Joshua Poole
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