with Ron Puvak, Director of Business Development and
Marketing, Plastic Technologies, Inc.
Q&A: Light on Packaging, Long on Shelf Life
Food manufacturers seeking sustainable packaging options often face a
tough challenge: finding an eco-friendly solution that does not negatively
impact shelf life. Ron Puvak of Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI) spoke
with Food Manufacturing about how manufacturers can find sustainable
packaging solutions, without compromising shelf life.
Q: What are some of the latest packaging trends you have
seen recently, especially when it comes to food and beverage products?
A: It is all about me. We are becoming a society that expects customization down to the individual level. From the coffee
we make at home to the liquid water enhancers, we all want
it our way. Packaging needs to be nimble and fast to respond
to these changing needs.
for manufacturers to
packaging they use, without compromising the integrity
of their packaging?
We also see the continued need for improved functionality
— easy to-open, feels good in the hand (not too lightweight)
and clearly identifies the brand. Unique shapes, colors and
designs are important package attributes due to limited shelf
space allocated to new products.
Yes. It starts with integrated design and realistic specifications. If you really want to achieve efficiencies and reduction
without performance compromise, all package development
inputs — from materials to industrial/product design — have
to be in sync. We also need to look hard at product performance requirements. Often we just translate specifications
from one product to another without real data to support it.
For example, do we really need a 12-month shelf life? Is our
distribution system really that rough? Knowing the product
requirements will be the only sure way to provide real packaging source reduction.
On the materials side, we are seeing more packages
made from renewable resources, including biopolymers.
Additionally, packaging is being used to help position new
nutritional-based refreshment product categories.
Q: Sustainability and environmental concerns are still top- of-mind for many manufacturers. What challenges do
food processors face when trying to select eco-friendly
Shelf life is an important consideration taken into
account as processors select their product packaging.
How can packaging choice impact the length of a product’s shelf life?
A: Impact to the recycling stream is an important issue. In the United States, we have established respectable return/recov-
ery rates for most of the major packaging materials. We can
and will improve these rates, but we cannot introduce new
materials into this stream without being cautious. New mate-
rials must integrate into these established recovery or reuse
streams. If that isn’t possible, manufacturers then have to
setup their own recovery processes. That is a pretty big chal-
lenge. As an example, much of the biopolymer development
is being directed to finding solutions which enable current
Barrier solutions to assist packaging have multiplied tenfold
over the last several years. There is a barrier solution to
match almost any requirement today. However, with so many
choices, the decision on which one is right and most cost
effective gets very difficult. So the industry has begun to
embrace computer modeling as the first phase of any deci-
sion on what barrier solution will work best for their specific