Thanks to its combination of properties, aluminium foil is used in a wide variety of beverage and other liquid packing applications.
Foiled Lined Cartons
Cartons containing liquid food products – for example, milk, juices, soups and cream – are now familiar and very popular. What is not widely appreciated is that virtually all such products that require long term unrefrigerated protection are packed in laminates containing a layer of aluminium foil. A 6.5 micron aluminium foil layer provides the carton with properties normally associated with much more robust containers. The thin aluminium foil layer renders the lightweight pack totally impervious to light, taint and gases.
Flexibility of Form
Such ‘long life’ cartons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Every child is familiar with the handy portion juice pack, usually with a straw attached, that has become commonplace in their lunchbox, encouraging the enjoyment and greater consumption of healthy drinks. Packs are evolving all the time with easy-to-open and resealable closures as well as attractive, easy to hold, new formats with shaped corners.
Conservation of Resources
As well as the convenience and visual appeal of these packs, they have a further very important advantage – their environmental performance. By enabling products to be preserved for long periods without the need for refrigeration they provide great energy savings – their shape makes them very ‘space efficient’ in storage and display, again enabling big energy and cost savings. Added to this, foil lined liquid cartons are light – only 1.5g of aluminium in 28g of laminate for 1,000g of drink – yet provide reliable, long life protection. In this way, the use of aluminium foil enables enormous savings of weight and resources compared with alternatives with the same level of protection.
Recycling of Foil Lined Cartons
Much work has been dedicated to optimising the recycling of these packs. A variety of processes are now in use which separate the used materials to recover the aluminium for re-use and to extract the valuable energy stored in the materials.
Pouches are the most recent development in drinks packaging; they are usually made from a multi-layer composite of which aluminium foil is the essential barrier layer. These packs, some of which are ‘stand-up’, have enormous visual impact and have been adopted for a wide range of sports and health drinks. Many of them incorporate tamper evidence features, and closure systems that make consumption ‘on the move’ even easier. Their very low weight-to-contents ratio saves resources.
Weight and Space Saving Properties
Even though the weight of an empty 200ml pouch is less than that of a sheet of copier paper, the pack is strong enough to meet tough drop and burst resistance tests as well as providing the essential barrier property for sensitive products. The remarkably light weight of the pack enables enormous transport cost savings to be made. The packaging laminate is delivered in space saving reel form, so saving transport costs.
How Pouch Packs Compare to Other Forms of Packaging
Also, when comparing the payload of a truck load of standard 200ml glass packs of a drink product compared to the same product packed in 200ml aluminium foil pouches, over 80% more product can be shipped in the same space when using the pouch packs. Independent studies checked by the German Environment Agency (UBA) have concluded that the stand-up pouch is an environmentally friendly beverage pack with a similar environmental impact as a returnable glass bottle or liquid carton.