Consumer and manufacturer demand for more environmentally friendly packaging has never been stronger. Recently, Mondelēz International approached Syntegon Technology, formerly Bosch Packaging Technology, with a challenging request – to package Cadbury chocolate tablets in fully recyclable paper flow wraps. Following Syntegon Technology’s vision to provide intelligent and sustainable solutions for everyone, work on sustainable solutions for paper flow wrapping had already taken shape within the company. A year of continued development resulted in a forming unit and sealing jaws for cold sealing applications. In the form of an upgrade kit, the solution has now successfully been test trialed on Cadbury’s flow wrapping machines for chocolate tablets – a format that poses a particular challenge.
Paper packaging for Cadbury chocolate tablet with Syntegon Technology
Founded in Birmingham, England, in the 1830s, Cadbury has been manufacturing cocoa products and chocolate for almost 200 years. While Cadbury’s best-selling Dairy Milk choco late bar has won over chocolate lovers in every corner of the world, it offers a wide range of flavors, sizes, and products, including the Energy bar, which is sold in New Zealand.
Mondelez International, to which the Cadbury brand belongs, has committed to making all of its packaging recyclable by 2025 through materials innovation, improved waste and recycling infrastructure, and consumer information and education. While plastic will continue to play an essential role in maintaining shelf life and minimizing food waste, some products could be packaged in sustainable packaging materials, including paper flow-wrap.
The challenges of paper packaging
Paper packaging scores high because it can be reprocessed in existing paper recycling streams. Consumers perceive paper packaging as particularly sustainable and make their decision at the point of sale based on touch and feel. Paper packaging receives increased attention with flow wraps, leading food manufacturers to consider the change from conventional packaging materials to paper-based packaging. However, paper is not as easy to package as films and poses its own challenges when used on existing flow wrapping machines.
To come up with a suitable solution, Syntegon worked on an upgrade kit at its test laboratory in Beringen, Switzerland. “As a provider of packaging engineering solutions, Syntegon is working at full blast to optimize its machine technology. We are striving to provide concrete technical solutions today for tomorrow’s packaging technology,” Christoph Langohr, project manager for sustainability, Horizontal Packaging, at Syntegon Technology explains. “Naturally, when Mondelēz International approached us and asked to support their launch of a paper packaging solution for Cadbury’s Energy chocolate tablet, we were excited to come up with a solution.”
Handling paper with care – choosing the right packaging material
There is a wide range of paper suppliers who offer a variety of papers with different characteristics in stiffness and machinability. Paper packaging has several limitations, which makes it challenging to protect the product to the same degree as proven conventional films while generating the same output on the machine. Firstly, paper is a good insulator. Secondly,paper is a reasonably stiff material, making it easy to crease or tear during the pack forming-process and damage it.
Nonetheless, Mondelēz International chose paper packaging and approached Syntegon. The shape of the chocolate tablet itself posed an additional challenge. Based on the specific requirements, Syntegon developed the forming unit “paper-ON-form” for their flow wrapping machines. “Formats like bars are easier to handle. In contrast, chocolate tablets like Cadbury’s Energy tablet are much broader and very flat, which makes them more challenging to process. The new forming unit for Cadbury needed to take this into account,” Langohr says.
Holistic approach – Upgrade-Kit “paper-ON-form”
The challenge is to develop paper-packaging solutions for machines already installed rather than new machines since many different formats must be handled. To take a holistic approach, an upgrade kit was needed that suited all Bosch Packaging, now Syntegon, flow-wrapping machine types that use cold-sealing technology, without compromising on output rates. Handling paper on a flow-wrapping machine faces two major challenges. First, to handle the paper without breaking the grease and water-vapor barrier, and second, not to damage the flow wrap during sealing. This demands new sealing jaws that are customized for the specific paper material. Only then, reliable seals can be generated.
The real deal – Installation of upgrade kit “paper-ON-form”
To accomplish the best sealing results, Syntegon customized the new sealing jaws based on Cadbury’s selected paper film. Experts developed a new individual forming unit and sealing jaws for Cadbury, based on the desired pack size and the material characteristics, using 3D printed components. After putting the prototypes through their paces at the on-site test lab, it was time to manufacture the components. Syntegon Technology installed the forming unit and sealing jaws on Cadbury’s H-series flow wrapping machine.
After several trial-runs at their own facility, experts from Syntegon visited the Cadbury site to upgrade the existing flow wrapping machines and supervise the production run.
“We’re committed to making all of our packaging recyclable by 2025, and we’re working hard to use the right amount of packaging and simplify materials so they can be recycled. While we are making good progress in reaching our 2025 ambition, partnerships help us to create new materials, improve infrastructure, and change consumer behavior,” Maggie McKerr, senior sustainability manager of Mondelēz Global External Communication team, states
Revolutionizing paper packaging
The new upgrade kit “paper-ON-form” for flow wrapping machines, which comprises a forming unit and sealing jaws for cold sealing applications, is at the heart of the new paper packaging solution. Comprehensive tests have repeatedly demonstrated outputs without speed limitations. It proves that paper flow wrapping matches the performance of flow wrapping using films. The forming unit and sealing jaws can be used with different types of paper, regardless of thickness and supplier. As a result, paper packaging is now a real, sustainable option.