Seeking to deliver a sustainable alternative, in February 2018 Greiner Packaging’s factory in Dungannon in the UK began trials using polypropylene (PP), and was first in the UK to recreate a functional PP multi-pack.
One of the advantages of PS, however, was its ability to deliver an effective ‘break’ when separating the units, which the company said was initially difficult to achieve with PP.
UK retailer Tesco was one of the first customers to move from PS multi-packs to PP, but it said consumers were disappointed packs made from the new material did not ‘snap’ in the same way as the PS packs.
In July 2020, Greiner Packaging undertook Project Snap to develop and improve PP multi-pack breakability. By October 2020, the first filling trials of the latest PP four-pack had started, and the new improved yogurt 100g four-packs are now on-shelf.
“We needed to remove PS from our packaging and Greiner Packaging helped us with the move to PP,” Tesco senior packaging manager Denise Mathieson said.
“However, our customers were always accustomed to the easy ‘snap’ of the old PS yogurt multi-packs and we needed to further develop this feature with the new recyclable PP packaging. Greiner has been at the forefront of these developments and worked with us quickly to re-engineer the PP multi-pack to give it the same ‘snap’ quality of PS.”
Greiner Packaging UK & Ireland CEO Philip Woolsey said, “Over the past two-and-a-half years, Greiner Packaging Dungannon has invested heavily in delivering these multi-packs made from PP and then further engineering to give the same satisfying ‘snap’ as their predecessors.”
Working with international thermoforming company Kiefel, thermoform machine maker Illig, and filling and sealing firms Trepko and Clondalkin, in February 2018 Greiner Packaging commenced development of a four-pack PP multi-pack that could be easily separated. Production tooling followed and, by September 2018, filling and sealing trials were under way at a UK dairy company. By August 2019, all production trials were complete, and by the end of 2019, the new PP multi-packs were launched in the retail sector.
“The next step, for PP yogurt multi-packs will be to manufacture them using recycled PP,” Woolsey said.
“Mechanically recycled PP can currently only be used for non-food packaging, however a food approval is now in preparation. Chemically recycled PP is suitable for food contact, but not readily available as there are no large-scale recycling streams for PP. Greiner Packaging is currently involved in a project that aims to obtain food approval for r-PP from mechanical recycling. Ultimately, we will have succeeded in helping retailers move to using a material which genuinely delivers on our circular economy commitments, while still keep the fun element in place for consumers.”