Source Reduction in Liquid Packaging – VFFS Solutions

Christa Francis
Fri, May 5, 2017

Rovema-liquid-packaging-vffs-source reduction.jpegWaste not, want not! I’ve grown up hearing that, whether it’s because I needed to eat the vegetables on my plate or because I wanted to throw away a pair of jeans that I had gotten bored with.  That saying was annoying at the time because I did think money and clothes and food grew on trees, but my parents were right. 

From a business perspective, recognizing and acting on this concept makes you and your organization valuable and successful. In the packaging industry, let’s look at how this relates to source reduction with liquid packaging and the pillow bag.  More importantly, let's look at how source reduction can benefit you.

Benefit #1: Reduces Raw materials

Producing items items normally packaged in a rigid container such as glass or metal requires significantly more raw material usage than a pouch. Transferring from glass or metal containers to a liquid pouch can generate up to 70% to 95% reduction in raw material.  The percentage can vary depending on medium type.  Interestingly, the weight and volume of the finished food is also reduced. The decrease in raw material and final product saves you space in storage and transportation.

Benefit #2: Prolongs the life of goods

Retort liquid packages are often used for manufacturers trying to extend the life of a product. While a common myth is that the metal can provides a longer life cycle, this is simply not the case.  A can offers a 2- 5 year shelf life while a pouch can provide 8-10 years.  A longer life cycle means less waste when it comes to throwing away expired foods.

Benefit #3: Decreases Hazardous Packaging concerns. 

Source reduction in regards to liquid packaging and the pillow bag, limits toxic or hazardous packaging concerns.

With glass containers, an accidental drop of a jar of pickles could mean physical harm, harm to the product, and/or harm to the facility.  With the strong laminate films used in liquid vertical bagging, dropping a bag of pickles means no damage to person, product or place. 

Something that comes to mind when I think of concerns with breakage is a video I saw recently of a forklift driver in a liquor warehouse who somehow manages to bring down all the containers and shelving in the facility.  Now imagine the damage caused by stock packaged in glass containers verses stock packaged in pillow bags. There is definitely less potential harm involved with a pouch than with a glass container.

While a metal can may only suffer a dent when dropped, their packaging often raises a concern with the use of BPA. There are companies that have veered away from metal cans made with BPA, however, there is still a large amount of cans being produced with this substance.  It can be difficult for the consumer to determine if the can they bought has BPA in it or not.

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In addition to these benefits with liquid packaging using a pillow bag, the waste not/ source reduction principle applies in other aspects of your business. Some other incentives to consider source reduction are:

Waste not, save money

Reducing material, reducing weight, reducing storage space saves you, your organization, your customer and the end consumer money. Less gas involved, less liability with damaged product, less out-of-stock for issues with shelf space, less raw material all translate to cost savings.

Waste Not, Help the Environment

Stand up pouches and pillow bags are not associated with being environmentally friendly, but in comparison studies, facts point to the opposite.  Glass containers can are highly recyclable.  However, concerns that are not taken into account with the production of glass containers are energy consumption, air pollutants, and greenhouse gas emissions. Also, in regard to metal containers, the weight of packaging causes material sent to landfill waste to be in the favor of plastic pouches. Not to mention less fuel and gas emissions used in transport.

Waste not, build your brand/ image

Consumers value places, businesses, and products the support sustainability and a green lifestyle. This is not just because of an awareness of the impact that we have on the environment, but also because it demonstrates that you care.  You care about people, the earth, and the impact you have on other’s lifestyle. These are characteristics that instill loyalty.

What are other activities that we can look at to improve source reduction with liquid packaging on a VFFS machine?

Maintenance and repairFollowing scheduled maintenance and repair routines prevents issues with incorrect sealing of bags, which can lead to toxicity or shorter shelf life.  It also prevents incorrect bag formats, which can cause waste of product and material.

Reuse/ recycle – Brands such as Malt-O-Meal have created partnership recycling program with TerraCycle to repurpose used cereal bags and other material in their production facility. 

Education – Inform the customer of their recycling options.  Let them know how you have used source reduction with your packaging and how they can be a part of the process.

Many people do not associate liquid packaging with a vertical bagger or a pillow bag. Whether it's soup that was previously packaged in a #10 can and purposed for the restaurant industry or liquid detergent refills, the opportunity is there.  The opportunity for a high quality VFFS to produce high quality packaging for your high quality product.  The opportunity to implement source reduction and waste prevention.

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