ALTHOUGH plastic waste remains a major environmental concern especially in Asia, plastic materials and packaging are simply indispensable in the food and beverage industry. PET in particular offers certain characteristics such as flexibility, safety, light weight, and high recyclability that make them ideal for beverages, viscous liquids, condiments, packaged food, processed foods, and ready-to-eat foods. The continuing progress in the area of food-safe recycled PET (rPET) is expected to propel the use of PET films and packaging in the coming years.
A recently published report* from Mordor Intelligence says the global PET packaging market was valued at USD 49.8 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 66.42 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5% over the forecast period 2020 - 2025.
The Asia Pacific market is exhibiting the highest growth rate, as the switch from traditional packaging formats to PET bottles becomes more evident in the region’s developing countries.
Even as 2020 was a difficult year for industries, it also presented opportunities for the packaging sector. Along with food safety, the question of safe packaging and handling became a concern amid the pandemic. Market research point out the abrupt change in consumer habits due to COVID-19 that has increased home cooking, online shopping, and higher consumption of convenience and health products. Although these have been pushed to the forefront, other concerns such as sustainable production and ecological footprint remain highly important.
Dominique Martin, Sales Vice President South East Asia & Pacific at Sidel
In an interview with Dominique Martin, Sales Vice President South East Asia & Pacific at Sidel, he said that such changes in consumer behaviour are resulting in higher demand for family-size/litre bottles for beverages, as well as cooking oil and condiments. He said that the PET packaging sector is performing well under the circumstances, and the beverage sector did not see a significant drop in terms of volume last year despite the effects of the pandemic. While he has reserved his outlook for 2021 due to the unpredictability caused by COVID-19, the key message is to be able to anticipate market needs, to be prepared for setbacks, and to be able to address customers’ concerns at the quickest time.
Proving its necessity in this time of travel restrictions, Sidel’s remote video assistance tool connects the company with its global customers for machine maintenance and support. There was an increase in the use of this tool to support customers in Thailand and Vietnam last year, noted Mr Martin.
To address environmental concerns related to packaging, Sidel has always been ready to meet market requirements. For one, the company’s eco-packaging concept AYA, designed as an end-to-end packaging alternative for still water, reduces impact to the environment as it is made of 100% recycled PET (rPET) preforms, and has a snap-on tethered cap that remains attached to the bottle throughout its use, preventing separate waste. Unusually shaped like a V, it is compact and reduces the use of secondary and tertiary packaging materials. It’s no wonder the 220 ml version bottle with 5g weight won the award in the World Food Innovation Award (WFIA) in the category “Best Drink Packaging Design” in 2019, and it is ready for the EU directive that calls for the reduction of discarded caps that add to plastic waste. Mr Martin sees a similar directive being pushed in Asia in the near future. And will the AYA be seen in larger sizes? It’s not far from possible, according to Mr Martin.
Super Combi Compact
Sidel also reduced the footprint of the Super Combi with the release of a next-gen version called the Super Combi Compact, whose footprint is 30% lower when compared to the previous model. It integrates five process steps: preform feeder, blower, labeller, filler/capper and cap feeder – into an all-in-one smart system that delivers continuous top-level performance of up to 54,000 bottles per hour. The new model also features Sidel EvoFILL HS Still, a filling technology for still beverages that is 30% faster as well. The filler comes with proportional filling valves, controlled by electro-magnetic actuators, ensuring the best hygiene and control of the complete filling cycle.
Sidel showcased these solutions at the ProPak Asia 2020 in Thailand, along with other innovations that included the Combi BD (Blowing and Decoration), a system that features the Sidel EvoBLOW and EvoDECO technologies for fast, safe manufacturing and decoration of premium and/or lightweight PET packaging at up to 48,000 bph. With this, producers can deliver empty, labelled PET bottles.
With the Combi BD, conveyors are unnecessary, reducing the risk of bottle damage, according to Sidel. It does not have an infeed screw on the labeller – which accommodates roll-fed or pressure-sensitive labels (PSL) – ensures that the labelling will leave no marks on the bottles, even on specially shaped ones.
The Sidel Aseptic Combi Predis?, the integrated blow-fill-seal-filler solution with dry preform sterilisation ensures an aseptic production that is flexible, cost-effective and safe. Sidel was the first company to receive the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval for this patented technology. As with its other machines, this will help producers reduce their environmental footprint because the dry preform sterilisation technology does not require any water and uses only minimal amounts of chemicals in the production process.
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