Aptar Food + Beverage leveraged the benefits of two high-performance products, PolkaLite, a lighter version of the Polka closure (-1.3g), and the award-winning SimpliCycle recyclable valve to bring to manufacturers and consumers the highest levels of performance, convenience and sustainability in a closure that is reliable throughout the product life cycle. PolkaLite is a recyclable closure designed to use less raw materials. It not only helps brands in complying with packaging regulations and potentially achieve eco-taxes reduction, but it also appeals to environmentally conscious consumers who are committed to using products that are recyclable. PolkaLite, when paired with SimpliCycle, is a dispensing solution that is recyclable at the end of use, without compromising on performance. SimpliCycle, recently awarded the Best CSR/Sustainability Initiative at the World Food Innovation Awards ceremony in March 2021, is easily separated from the PET recycling stream and has the ability of being recycled with both PE and PP.
Flexible packaging paper Koehler NexPlus® Seal is used for secondary packaging. In this way, Ritter is taking up the changed consumer behavior as a pioneer. The switch to paper stand-up pouches was made without any large investment in packaging machines.
Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG aims to create packaging solutions from renewable raw materials that are in harmony with both humans and nature and recyclable. With a view to achieving this goal, the company actively monitors changes in consumer behavior, changes which have grown exponentially in recent months. The concept of sustainability is becoming a key criterion in shoppers’ purchase decisions, with packaging an increasingly important factor as shoppers no longer take the individual product into sole consideration. Ritter focuses on the first secondary packaging made of paper.
Koehler’s sustainable packaging solution as replacement for plastic duplex
With Koehler NexPlus®, the Koehler Group is meeting the rapidly growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions—and this extends beyond just the food industry. Koehler NexPlus® is barrier-coated paper with various capabilities.
The requirements placed on packaging paper are high, as the paper should also possess all the same capabilities as plastic duplex materials. This includes sufficient product protection and an attractive appearance at the point of sale, and it should also serve as a communication tool for contents etc. Additionally, in the best-case scenario, the existing packaging lines should continue to be used without the need to make major adjustments when switching to paper.
Switching packaging without changing the packaging lines
Ritter sells its products in over 100 countries worldwide. With just two production sites in Germany and Austria, the company caters for the global market. Syntegon packaging machines are used at both locations. Moritz Steinle, Packaging Development Engineer at Alfred Ritter explains: “We initially carried out several test runs with Koehler’s NexPlus® Seal paper, without putting anything inside at first, and then we got closer and closer to an optimal solution by making small adjustments.” The most important aspect was the heat-sealing process, which proved essential for neat product packaging. “Sealing temperature, sealing time, and sealing pressure all need to be optimally coordinated in order to seal the finished packaging product neatly. We placed great importance on all of these criteria during the qualification process of the packaging material,” continues Steinle. Koehler NexPlus® Seal Pure 65 g is used to make the mini mix pouches. For now, both Koehler’s flexible packaging paper and the classic plastic duplex can be used, which continues to provide flexibility.
Paper-based secondary packaging for Ritter Sport mini mix pouches
Sustainability and recyclability were the key requirements for the paper developed by Koehler in collaboration with Ritter. Requirements that have been successfully fulfilled, given that consumers can simply dispose of the mini pouches in paper recycling trash cans so that they can be turned back into paper or cardboard. “There is a clear trend when it comes to packaging material options,” says Eckhard Kallies. “Paper scores points right across the board, and is already making an active contribution towards the objectives of a circular economy. With our flexible paper packaging solutions, we’re reducing the proportion of plastic in product packaging and making the world a bit more sustainable in the process.”
The mini mix pouches have been distributed in all international markets since January, and have also been available in Germany since early March. “Open and rapid communication was ultimately crucial for the successful implementation of this project, as was close coordination with Koehler,” concludes Moritz Steinle. For Ritter it is merely the first logical step towards more sustainable packaging. Initial field tests with primary packaging have also been carried out commercially, and have been warmly embraced by consumers.