Syntegon looks to create more sustainable packaging options


Syntegon is looking for more sustainable options in the packaging space and believes the best way to achieve this with strong customer relationships.

Packing and processing technology company Syntegon offers tailor-made solutions to a range of packaging challenges in the coffee industry. It pride itself on a strong innovation culture and have been at the forefront of packaging developments for over 160 years with a presence across the world in 30 locations.

Syntegon is also a key driver of sustainability in packaging. Its machines aim to minimise product loss and waste as well as maximising efficiency to save on power and resources. In the food industry, Syntegon’s flexible and reliable technologies produce and pack confectionery, dry food, frozen food, and dairy products. With 1100 service experts and a comprehensive service portfolio throughout the entire machine lifecycle from spare parts management to digital line optimisation, Syntegon lays the foundation for smooth production processes for all customers. But it also understands that the type of packaging used is key to a sustainable future for the coffee industry.

“With packaging material there is a life after use and, when it comes to the coffee industry we have one specific problem in that we use multi-material laminates because of the protection that it gives to this very sensitive product,” says Marcus Velezmoro, Head of Product Line and Coffee Lab at Syntegon.

“The industry’s multi-layer films tend to incorporate two plastic types– single-use polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene (PE) – and in the middle of these two plastics there is aluminium so you have three totally different materials, all of them are synthetic and very energy intensive. The three layers also means that this film is very difficult to separate when it comes recycling.”

Syntegon had a client come to them that wanted to make a difference in the packaging space. Swedish coffee manufacturer Arvid Nordquist chose to tackle the issue of packaging materials in its quest to be a leader in sustainability.

Arvid Nordquist is Sweden’s first coffee roasting company to run entirely on renewable energy. When it comes to domestic transport, the company aims to achieve the same by 2025. A biogas-powered truck already transports 100 per cent of Arvid Nordquist’s coffee from the roastery to the warehouse partner.

“These plastics now represent a problem because first of all the carbon footprint is not very good and secondly is the lack of recyclability,” Velezmoro says. “So the packaging film up to now may have been perfect for protecting the coffee but for sustainability it was a problem so the idea was to replace the film with something else and this customer chose to get rid of the aluminium layer and to also replace the fossil PE with non fossil PE.”

Arvid Nordquist is a family-owned business that has made a name for itself since its founding days in 1884 – and gained a firm foothold in Scandinavia and beyond. Today, Arvid Nordquist is the country’s fastest growing coffee brand with over 25 per cent market share. The key to the company’s success is a strong commitment to fair and sustainable business practices. As a purchaser and roaster, the company relies on sustainable Arabica beans to ensure high quality across its entire range of ground coffee and whole beans. Just outside of Stockholm, the company processes the precious raw materials in its sole roasting house in Sweden, and it wanted its packaging to fit with the rest of the company ethos.

Velezmoro says that Syntegon’s expertise is in the area of process packaging, its core knowledge being the interaction between third-party packaging materials and Synetgon’s range of packing machines.

“It is an intimate relationship that must be respected to get the best performance out of the machine,” says Velezmoro. “So, as soon as you make any change to the materials you have to be aware of how it affects the machine. Packing is always a collaboration between a film supplier – who is the inventor of a film – then we have to process the film and then the customer has to go to market with this new idea. So it is the three of us that contributed to this innovative sustainable packaging.”

Arvid Nordquist teamed with Swiss film specialist O. Kleiner AG, to create a composite film without aluminium. As an alternative to fossil-based films, the current solution contains 90 per cent of material from renewable resources, supporting Arvid Nordquist’s CO2 reduction. However, the material comes with challenging characteristics. Just like any plastic, it is prone to regaining its initial shape after bending.

“This so-called memory effect is all the more predominant as aluminum is missing from the material,” Martin Kleiner, CEO at O. Kleiner says.

For Syntegon, that meant that they had to rethink how its standard PKD production line operated for Arvid Nordquist. Fortunately, the customer was not only looking to change packaging film but to upgrade its whole production line which meant that Syntegon could start from scratch.

Arvid Nordquist had been relying on the PKD vacuum packaging technology from Syntegon since the installation of their first vacuum packaging line in 1994. The high-performance mandrel wheel packaging machine forms, fills and seals vacuum packs of ground coffee at high output rates of up to 130 packs per minute. Before switching to alternative films, Arvid Nordquist had been using a PKD model built to process aluminium and fossil-based films. But while the machine’s heat-sealing technology works well with traditional films that require high temperatures, it was no match for Arvid Nordquist‘s new packaging variants.

“You have modify the sealing process for the simple reason the lack of aluminium as a major influence and when you take it out you have a differently set of physical principles to account for in the machine,” Velezmoro says.

These sustainable films require lower sealing temperatures and smaller sealing windows to prevent the outer film layer from melting and sticking to the sealing jaws – which is exactly what Syntegon’s adapted PKD helps avoid. The latest model cannot only seal at lower temperatures thanks to integrated heat protection on the sealing jaws. It also forms packaging materials more efficiently by using pre-heated tools to bypass the memory effect – which comes in handy for aluminum-free films. Thanks to servo drives, the mandrel wheel can further accommodate a larger variety of packs, adding to overall forming and packaging flexibility.

Velezmoro says that the answer to the smaller sealing window was also to create more sealing stations along the production line to keep up the production levels.

This is not the last sustainable innovation that Arvid Nordquist has in mind either as the advancements in packaging materials continue to evolve. The next thing that the company is exploring are mono-laminate materials that can be more easily recycled.

And once again, making this new innovation work will require a key partnership with Syntegon and O. Kleiner as they work together to overcome operational challenges.

Thanks to its new gentle sealing technology, and extensive testing in the Syntegon coffee lab, the latest PKD series machine is expected to be suited to run the new mono-laminates as well.

“We see ourselves as a conscientious contributor to society with a strong pledge to sustainable and responsible business operations,” says Anders Nordquist. GCR

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This article was first published in the September/October 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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