AINIA has developed a new automated process for industrial manufacture of a cardboard container that reduces between 85-90% the use of plastic materials.
The project Thermofib, financed by the Valencian Innovation Agency, represents a further step for the industrial production and commercialization of this tray, patented by AINIA.
This sustainable packaging, called fiber tray, has a completely flat sealing edge, without discontinuities, and of uniform thickness. This allows ensure its tightness with safer heat sealing and with a lower risk of defects in its online processing, thereby increasing food safety in a sustainable way, a vital aspect for the food industry.
“The development of this patent is based on the configuration of layers of materials where each one of them performs a function: generation of side walls and bottom of the tray. The formation and union of the different layers allows the container to be generated without the material stretching ”, he explained. Pedro Zomeno, from the Department of Packaging Technologies of AINIA.
This design makes it possible to obtain a container made mostly of cellulosic material, thus reducing the use of plastic materials. In addition, it is easily adapted to numerous formats, including multi-unit product packs or multi-cavity containers, such as salads with toppings and sauces. Therefore, it is of special interest to the meat sector, prepared plants and salads IV and V range, among others.
The automation design has been conceived so that the forming of the container can be carried out by combining current commercial equipment. "In this way, a much more competitive technology is projected compared to other proposed solutions," says Zomeño.
The Termofib project aims to transfer this technology to the food and beverage production market, through the validation of an industrial prototype in context of actual use. For this, the project has been validated in real industrial packaging lines.
To achieve this objective, Pedro Zomeño highlighted, it has been necessary: to verify that the automatic process is viable and profitable; evaluate the correct heat sealing on a real production line; validate its structural strength for the packaging of food products and confirm the stability of the shelf life of the packaged product. In addition, a minimum viable product (MVP) has been reached, which allows the technology to be brought to market in an agile and profitable way.
"This innovation also provides the possibility of developing new lines of business aligned with the objectives of the circular economy, to all actors in the food value chain, such as for producers and / or distributors of food in heat-sealed trays, as products meat, and fruits and vegetables ”, he explained Ruben Lahuerta, responsible for the Transfer of Technology and New Developments of AINIA.