Raw material shortages as well as plastic-reduction initiatives launched by brand owners has given Muller Technology Colorado an opportunity to help its customers — brand owners and processors — employ a range of strategies to enhance plastic packaging sustainability.
“We take our responsibility as stewards of the environment very seriously and we’re committed to helping our customers meet growing demand for more sustainable packaging while also helping them navigate the current material shortage caused by the February ice storm that hit the Gulf Coast,” said Taras Konowal, Director of Sales and Marketing for Muller North America, a global developer and manufacturer of automation technology for thin-wall packaging.
Muller has worked closely with its customers throughout the design development stage to reduce the amount of plastic in containers by up to 30% through light- weighting and by up to 80% through substitution with paperboard. The company’s latest automation equipment designs have reduced energy consumption by up to 40%. These efforts have distinguished the company in the automation industry as manufacturers explore new packaging alternatives that deliver sustainability benefits and cut costs, according to Konowal.
Recently, Muller began working with leading US brand owners to develop polymer-coated paperboard solutions that deliver strong barrier properties in a sustainable packaging option. Muller worked closely with Swedish packaging manufacturer Arta Plast to develop a renewable paperboard cup called Fiber Cup.
To ensure strong barrier protection and freshness for products such as crème fraiche, butter, and chilled food, the paperboard is coated with a thin polypropylene (PP) layer on both sides. The cup is recyclable, while its attractive shape and printing and design capabilities showcase the brand.
During a two-year developmental process, the project team refined the injection molding process and developed a specialized mold and in-mold labeling (IML) technology. The fiber-based cup significantly reduces plastic use and keeps the product fresh. The container is sealed with a foil cover and incorporates a standard PP lid.
“This new package takes a fresh approach to improved sustainability while also optimizing the use of plastics materials,” said Konowal.