Environmental sustainability is becoming a new standard for pet food packaging. Following the European Strategy for Plastics, by 2030 all plastic packaging in European Union must be recyclable or reusable . However, many businesses are already striving towards achieving this goal by 2025. Recently Coveris, a leading European manufacturer of flexible packaging solutions, supported its key customer in Spain, C&D Foods, in a smooth transition to sustainable mono-material bags. Jérôme Detais, Commercial Manager from Coveris, and Mario de la Fuente, Key Account Manager from C&D Foods explain the key challenges and benefits of their sustainable packaging evolution.
According to latest research, despite the economic crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic, the global pet food production volume exceeded 29,3 million metric tons in 2020, driven mostly by Europe . However, it’s not the market demand that is keeping the pet food brands awake at night, but the rigorous legislation regarding its packaging. “Our number one concern at the moment is to effectively switch our production in next the 5 years to sustainable packaging that is fully recyclable or reusable”, commented Mario de la Fuente from C&D Foods, a key pet food manufacturer in Western Europe. “With the help of Coveris we managed to achieve this for our key private pet food brand without major design changes or production downtime”.
Natural feels better
One of C&D’s top-selling brands is a private dry pet food label sold in Aldi stores across Spain and Portugal under “Natura” brand name. Once the new packaging legislation came into life it was agreed that “Natura” will be the pilot packaging project. After several months of product development, the final bag is based on a flexible mono-material solution called MonoFlexE which Coveris launched at FachPack trade show back in 2019. Designed using only polyethylene, it maintains the best features of standard Coveris films, including enhanced convenience for opening and reclosing, as well as an attractive, premium look at point-of-sale. But most importantly – it offers fully recyclability thanks to its mono-material base. “Redesiging from PET makes separation during recycling process a lot easier and more effective. However, the material change wasn’t the only challenge we had to overcome”, explains Jérôme Detais.
Despite having a fully recyclable bag, C&D Foods also requested a more natural “look & feel”. “Normally we would use a special varnish or an external OPP/PET layer to achieve this effect, but this would make recycling difficult. Therefore, we created the matt-finish effect directly on the outer PE layer, without affecting recycling”, commented Jérôme Detais. Another challenge was the manufacturing process, because PE shrinks at 100-120 degrees Celsius, while PET has a stronger heat resistance of up to 200-250 degrees Celsius. “This was a particularly difficult step because it influenced the overall quality of the bags and speed of their production which the customer wanted to maintain at the same level. Eventually we managed to meet this criteria by perfectly measuring the material’s heat and avoiding shrinkage both on top and side seals”, added Jérôme Detais.
Packaging of the future
“The final result exceeded our expectations”, summarised Mario de la Fuente from C&D Foods, “The new four corner block bottom bag stands out on the shelf with its natural, matt finish and improved graphics which instantly catch the customer’s eye”. Additionally, the resealable zipper prolongs the product's shelf-life and freshness, while the equivalent machinability as standard PET/PE makes introducing MonoFlexE to existing production lines a straightforward procedure. “Combined with full recyclability thanks to its mono-material base, the new bag meets all our needs for user-friendly, sustainable packaging for pet food both today and tomorrow”, added Mario de la Fuente.
“From a Coveris standpoint it’s most important that the mono-material solution for C&D delivers the same protective, functional and shelf life benefits as existing solutions, without compromising on recycling. Keeping in mind the growing need for more recyclable packaging by 2030, it is a significant step forward in supporting the packaging market in reducing environmental footprint”, commented Jérôme Detais.
Pet Food and HPC Segment Leader
M: +33 (0)6 09 64 22 72
 European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, 2017, https://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/pdf/plastics-strategy-brochure.pdf