Some products, such as the carton you pour milk from for your morning coffee or the plastic water bottle you bought the other day at a gas station, are so ordinary and of everyday use that people rarely stop to think about the production process behind them. How do these products get made and where do they end up? Circular economy is a hot topic and a growing number of companies like Solvay are conscious of giving products a second life through recycling. Through aseptic packaging solutions, Solvay can be instrumental in prolonging shelf life and reducing food waste.
Contributing to a better world
Foregoing the “take, make and dispose” model most companies have adopted, Solvay has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur foundation with the goal to move towards a circular economy: refining products to minimize waste, saving resources and energy. Through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair and recycling, the loop gets closed and the end product reused.
In the food and beverage industry, Solvay contributes to the circular economy loop by providing aseptic packaging solutions. Aseptic packaging simply means clean and sterile packaging. Although self-evident, sterile packaging is of utmost importance when handling food and beverage products. But besides the obvious reasons of preventing contamination and illness, why does aseptic packaging play such an important role in today’s consumption industry?
Before things get heated up...
A common way to sterilize food and drink packaging is using heat. Packages are filled with the product and then heated at a high temperature. The heat treatment has the advantage of sterilizing both packaging and product. However, lengthy exposure to high temperatures can affect the quality of the flavor and texture. Although this method is still used for cans and bottles, it is not an ideal solution for modern, lightweight packaging. PET or plastic bottles are typically quite susceptible to heat, losing their shape at high temperatures.
Through aseptic packaging solutions, manufacturers now have the option to sterilize products before filling. Containers are aseptically processed beforehand, allowing them to be filled with heat-sensitive products.
Oxygenated water at your service
Otherwise known as the molecular structure H2O2, oxygenated water (hydrogen peroxide) is an effective and sustainable sterilizing agent thanks to its oxidizing properties. Solvay’s Interox AG spray is primarily based on oxygenated water.
“There are two ways to clean packaging throughout the manufacturing process,” explains Tom Candy, Product Manager for Solvay Peroxide EMEA. “The first is running the packaging through an oxygenated water bath, before it gets folded into cartons, for which Solvay has developed its’ Interox AG Bath solutions. The second is spraying the final packaging with H2O2. Solvay’s spray-grade oxygenated water product range is especially made for the second type of aseptic packaging, which is also used for PET bottles.”
“Solvay and equipment manufacturers work together to provide the best possible solution for consumers,” Tom concludes. “Our products are compliant with the food chemical codex, Pharmacopoeia and the FDA regulations. The use of oxygenated water has tight regulations and by working together with machine manufacturers, we are able to supply a high-quality product that meets their standards as well, guaranteeing machines that can operate aseptically.”
Made to last
By filling packaging under aseptic conditions, food and beverage companies have been able to extend the shelf life of their products without refrigeration for an estimated 6 to 12 months. Manufacturers now have more time to ship and sell products before they expire, which contributes to a decrease in food waste. Aseptic packaging solutions also encourage the use of lightweight packaging such as PET bottles, which are recyclable products and therefore close the circular economy loop.