Focusing on European Flex-Pack

Package Converting

More than 125 flexible packaging pros from all over Europe attended Intertech/Pira’s “Innovations in Flexible Packaging” Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Nov. 15-–16, 2006.

Several presentations were targeted at flex-pack opportunities in Asia, Eastern/Central Europe, and India. Vlado Volek, head of the Czech SYBA Packaging Assn., discussed the packaging market in the Czech Republic. Having visited the Czech Republic more than 20 times since the fall of socialism, I am constantly impressed by the advances in flexible packaging. There is now a dedicated trade journal (Svet Baleni) for the packaging industry. as well as many changes and additions to flex-pack firms. Kovohute Bridnicia, the huge socialist aluminum foil plant, is now Van LeerObaly, and Rexam has joined the growing list of multinationals operating in the nation.

The Czech flex-pack industry ($100 mm) is dominated by Alcan Packaging, Meda Pack, Cryovac Sealed Air, Mondi Flexible Packaging Steti, and Alpak Trade. These international firms have joined such established domestics as Granital, Fatra, and Invos.

The talk on the Indian flex-pack industry was given by Anil Sadhawari of Positive Packaging (Mumbai, India). Having visited the firm several years ago and observed both their production and marketing programs, I heard about their many recent successes in entering the European market selling converted products in the UK, Germany, and France.

Bahadir Ozer, Ispak, Turkey, offered data on both the aluminum foil and flex-pack industries in Turkey. With many flex-pack converters and outstanding production in both OPP and PET, Turkey is the “sleeper” in European flex-pack production and is one of the four key emerging world flex-pack markets, along with China, India, and Russia.

Inge Roucourt, Basell (Brussels, Belgium), discussed “Easy Opening Packaging Concepts with Polybutene-1 [PB-1],” saying, “Among areas being looked at are future uses in chilled and fresh food, confectionery, and applications which require controlled and modified atmosphere packaging to extend the shelf life of products. Basell is looking at the possibility of developing with its customers PB-1 easy-peel systems for polypropylene containers which are used in dairy product packaging and applications for deep-frozen food, heavy-duty sacks, such as those used for agricultural feed, and easy-open solutions to be applied to PS- or APET-based substrates, including also new ready-to-use seal peel compounds as SP 2000 B, SP 2001, and SP 2101C.”

Jan de Kroon and Yannick Chardebas addressed the production of BOPA resin and film. Striving to find a niche in flex-pack markets, biaxially oriented polyamide film is finding some use in retort pouch, coffee, and cheese packaging. Its excellent strength and clarity offers enhanced advantages to the converter. DSM, the Dutch resin producer, is promoting the use of the resin aggressively. In North America Honeywell and Bi-Ax Intl. produce BOPA for various applications.

Andy Sweetman (Innovia) talked on the “hot” sustainability issue, noting that key market drivers include the following:

  • Retailers want to be able to send “back of store” waste straight to compost, without the need for separation
  • 2005…oil prices, gas prices, Katrina, Rita
  • Major increase in focus on sustainability
  • Finite nature of fossil-fuel-based materials
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Consumers want biodegradable packaging
  • Landfill sites running out in Europe
  • EU legislation to remove the organic fraction from landfill
  • Major increase in use of composting as a waste management stream
  • Promotion of home composting.

Stanley Sacharow has been in the flexible packaging industry for more than 35 years. Contact him at 732/636-0885; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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