Sustainability in Secondary Packaging Lines

Secondary packaging lines need greater precision when handling materials with variances in content and weight, according to a new report by PMMI Business Intelligence.

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Nearly half of the CPGs interviewed for “Packaging Sustainability: A Changing Landscape 2020” are working to reduce their overall carbon footprint, focusing on reducing water, gas, and electric. Package design and primary packaging lines are other areas of focus, but secondary packaging lines are also under scrutiny to become more efficient.

CPGs are expecting to purchase new equipment such as robotic case packers and palletizers, case erectors, cartoners, palletizers and de-palletizers, and automatic case packers. Machine modifications or adjustments are needed to achieve sustainable packaging goals, but some of the challenges CPGs face when moving to more sustainable packaging provide opportunities for OEMs to explore application details with customers:

  • Secondary packaging machines such as conveyors must be able to handle material reduction strategies, including lightweight corrugated.
  • Virgin fibers are being replaced with recycled materials, causing issues with case erecting, packing, and adhesive. Also, line speed is impacted with increasing amounts of PCR content in corrugated; requiring a broader tolerance range. Eliminating or reducing corrugated materials requires innovative bundling and shrink-wrapping solutions.
  • Machines need to run different style boxes to accommodate sustainability strategies, such as using the right size box. Case packers with a smaller footprint can help achieve sustainability goals through reduction in energy usage.
  •  A more efficient process of unpacking the contents of a pallet and repacking them into different sizes or variety packs is needed, with a focus on reducing material usage.
  • Shrink film proprieties change as PCR content increases versus virgin materials, and machines need to handle both. Machinery needs to be optimized to enable smooth processing of recyclable PE laminates and coextrusions, which have different machine handling requirements.
  • Reduced adhesive melting points in case erecting and sealing to minimize material usage. Said one Packaging Product Manager at an OEM, “We are exploring how we can avoid having to heat the glue so intensely or how we can reduce our consumption of adhesive; we now apply smaller and smaller dots of adhesive as opposed to the diamond shapes we previously utilized.”

Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, “Packaging Sustainability: A Changing Landscape 2020

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