Proseal tray sealing technology is at the forefront of the race to find feasible alternatives to plastic trays and sealing film for the European soft fruit market.
The company says the introduction of legislation such as the UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax and the EU’s Plastic Waste Levy, combined with increasingly negative perceptions about plastic among consumers, are driving the change.
“Although plastic packaging still has many benefits, the amount of anti-plastic sentiment that we are now seeing means many fruit growers and packers are actively seeking a different solution,” said Daryl Henshaw, Proseal’s Key Accounts Manager.
Proseal’s established pedigree in soft fruit tray sealing – the company estimates that as much as 95 percent of top-sealed trays in the UK are sealed on Proseal machines – means it is ideally placed to support the development of new and innovative packaging materials.
Recent introductions have included the Alexa Stackpack, a craft-board punnet that provides an inline, off-the-shelf, fully printed card punnet. However, although the punnet comes pre-assembled, until now there has been no automatic system available for folding and sealing the pack’s two flanges other than by hand.
In collaboration with Alexa, Proseal has developed a solution that will fold and seal the flanges as the packs are filled and run through a line. “Sealing the flanges was proving a real challenge for the manufacturer, but we have developed a unique technology to over-come this,” explained Daryl Henshaw.
Another off-the-shelf system, which is receiving even more uptake across Europe, is the CKF Earthcycle Punnet. This provides the option to swap easily between plastic and pulp, as well as the chance to move from plastic-based to cellulose-based film. “It offers a completely plastic-free equivalent to a plastic punnet and a realistic, workable alternative. Significantly, packers can plug-and-play these materials into their existing Proseal machines,” said Henshaw. “
Indeed, one of the benefits of Proseal tray sealing machines is their future proofing, with the ability to add and remove features in order to be easily adapted to handle new pack formats. In addition, the company’s dedicated test kitchen enables customers to fully trial new materials and tray designs to ensure they meet their requirements.
For customers not ready to make the switch away from plastic, considerable savings can also be made through reducing the weight of existing trays or a simple switch from a clamshell lid to a film lid. As Henshaw explained, “You can replace an 8 gm plastic clamshell lid with a 0.5 gm film just by adopting top-sealing. This saves 95% of the plastic used in the lid and 40% of the plastic in the punnet overall.”