Seeking sustainable packaging

A new process employing recycled materials for food packaging could markedly reduce the mountains waste at landfill sites.

The research project at the University of Bath, western England, and Campden BRI, a nearby food and drinks research centre, is looking to improve the ‘form-fill and seal’ type of packaging used for foods such as rice, pasta and crisps.

By designing a more efficient way of sealing the packaging, the UK researchers seek to reduce the amount of material used by 13%.

This would lead to a saving of 39,000 tonnes a year of landfill waste in the UK alone.

Applied across the world, the technology could result in huge environmental benefits.

Bath University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Professor Glen Mullineux, Dr Ben Hicks and Dr Jason Matthews, are working as part of a consortium on the two-year, billion dollar project funded by government.

Also involved are machinery maker HayssenSandiacre Europe, Amcor Flexibles Food and United Biscuits.

They will examine the process used to mechanically fill and seal the packaging and use this information to design a new packing machine that employs less plastic and can use recycled materials.

Dr Hicks, senior research fellow and deputy director of the university’s Innovative Design Manufacturing Research Centre, said that “projects such as this are fundamental to the consumer goods industry if it is to meet the challenge of sustainability.

“The scientific knowledge base is further enhanced by the materials processing knowledge of Amcor, the practical experience of consumer goods packaging from United Biscuits and the machinery design knowledge of HayssenSandiacre.”

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