Environmental agenda drives changes in induction heat sealing-Packaging Europe

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Induction heat sealing has been used as a packaging sealing method for more than 70 years. In the past two decades, the method has improved significantly and many sealing problems have been overcome.

However, as the dramatic shift to online sourcing drives the growth of induction heat sealing and increased environmental pressures for simpler single materials, lining design will change again. Here, Darren Dodd, Director of Sales and Marketing at Selig, explains this further.

The rise of induction heat sealing

Induction heat sealing first appeared in the late 1950s as a means to solve the leakage of polyethylene bottles during transportation. Since then, it has continued to grow and develop as a method of container sealing. It works by using a laminated structure (or lining) to apply an airtight seal on the container mouth.

After the bottle cap is fixed on the package, the aluminum foil in the lining will be heated by electromagnetic induction, so that a layer of heat-sealing material is firmly bonded to the edge of the container (also called the pad area), forming a firm airtight seal. 

Induction heat sealing has been developed to enable manufacturers to manufacture air-tight, leak-proof seals that can be customized as needed to be tamper-proof, branded, and easy to open. Choosing the right liner is now more important than ever, especially when companies seek to balance the tightness and lightness of their packaging.

In addition, due to the development of e-commerce, many manufacturers have turned to induction heat sealing in the past two years to overcome the increasingly serious leakage problem. In fact, many international shipping companies now require the use of induction liners on liquid products to protect their distribution channels.

Although induction heat sealing can meet the challenges posed by e-commerce distribution networks, the materials used in linings will change under environmental pressure in the next few years. Currently, many induction heat-sealing linings used on bottles and jars are made of a variety of materials. This obviously makes it difficult for them to enter any existing recycling streams until chemical recycling systems become more mainstream.

The challenge now is to develop liners that are simpler, more recyclable, and contain more recycled content, while continuing to protect consumers from damage and leakage. Lining development will drive the shift to a single material, but it also means that a lot of research and development is required to provide the same level of sealing function without the need for a multi-layer solution.

Currently, the available single-material pads are mainly foam-based. However, I believe that as more and more companies switch to using a single material instead of two-piece liners to ensure the recyclability of packaging, the concept of recycling will go further.

We can see that the use of a single material that matches the bottle creates a "single-material overall product"-therefore, the PE lining on the PE bottle and the PET lining on the PET bottle. We have not yet become an industry, but the need to develop more sustainable solutions will drive future packaging innovations on a very detailed level.  

Victoria Hattersley talked with Itue Yanagida, Toray International Europe GmbH's graphics system business development manager.

Philippe Gallard, Global Innovation Director of Nestlé Water, discussed the trends and latest developments from recyclability and reusability to different packaging materials.

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