Which alternative materials for thermoforming machines?

Synerlink A-PET thermoforming and cutting technology available alternative for Form-Fill-Seal filler

Consumers’ expectations change, and manufacturers are confronted with growing demand for recyclability and reduced packaging. This movement illustrates a new consumer tendency toward nutrition that is healthier, more environmentally friendly and more sustainable. Regulatory trends in the EU and in specific countries strengthen packaging recyclability measures and require the agrofood industry to adapt in coming years.

To respond to these new requirements — specifically in the dairy market — Synerlink teams have developed solutions for using materials perfectly adaptable to our FFS technology and that respond to the packaging quality standards expected by manufacturers. Several options have been identified for equipping new production lines and adapting existing ones. Currently, most lines are equipped to work with polystyrene (PS), which is considered easy to thermoform but is currently difficult to recycle, since the channel currently isn’t very organized.

One of the paths explored by Synerlink R&D teams involves PLA (polylactic acid), already used in the United States and Spain. It has several major advantages: It is biosourced, which means it is 100% of natural origin, often made with cornstarch fibers. However, it is an abrasive material, and difficult to cut, especially when it is thin.

Synerlink R&D teams did tests on all the stations so that the machine could be adapted to the constraints associated with PLA material. The results have helped our customers decide in favor of a material that meets packaging quality standards while perfectly combining with FFS technology.

Another material considered: PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which also has notable advantages. PET already has an established recycling channel for many types of packaging — especially bottles — and its price per ton is much lower than that of PLA.

The Synerlink teams have developed technical solutions for high-quality cutting and precutting of PET. Using transparent PET allows consumers to see the product, which makes it more attractive on the shelf. In the quest for product superiority, this cup can receive a PET lid and sleeve, making the packaging completely recyclable. To achieve this result, Synerlink offers manufacturers its expertise in complete line integration. Thus Synerlink has been chosen for a project to fill PET cups, along with placement of a PET lid and integration of a PET sleeve label using its EL SLEEVE machine.

Several Synerlink lines operate with PET material, and the results speak for themselves! PET cups’ transparency and recyclability match the needs of manufacturers looking for an alternative to polystyrene cups with the demands of environmentally conscious consumers.