Flexible packaging has become the packaging of choice throughout retail environments. It is a packaging solution that provides several protective, environmental, and cost advantages over other types of packaging. The materials used to produce flexible packaging provide a number of benefits, including advanced barrier properties, excellent print quality, a lower environmental impact compared to rigid containers, and much more. Typically created as laminated structures, here are some of the more commonly used film components:
• Polyethylene (PE)
Polyethylene is often used for frozen food packaging, as well as for the heat-sealable layer in lamination for Stand up pouches, or roll-fed packaging machines. It is a type of thermoplastic polymer that is used in various forms, including low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, and linear low-density polyethylene. PE films are lightweight, flexible, and offer excellent sealing properties. They are used for food and non-food packaging applications, including bags, wraps, and pouches.
• Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH)
Ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) is a type of thermoplastic polymer that is used as a barrier layer in flexible packaging materials, most commonly as a component within a polyethylene film. EVOH films offer excellent barrier properties against aromas, flavors, oxygen, and moisture, making them an ideal material for food packaging applications where these barrier properties are needed. Used in lamination with a special Polyethylene film, EVOH films can become “Recycle Ready” packaging, as the components are compatible for recycling.
• Oriented Polypropylene (OPP)
Oriented Polypropylene (OPP) is used in a wide range of flexible packaging applications. OPP films offer excellent clarity, stiffness, and moderate heat resistance; they can also be produced with a matte finish, or metalized to provide increased oxygen and moisture barrier. OPP films are commonly used for food packaging applications such as candy or nutrition bar wraps, and snack bags.
• Cast Polypropylene (CPP)
Cast Polypropylene (CPP) is usually used as a sealant layer, after being laminated to either OPP or PET. It can be clear or metalized to provide increased oxygen and moisture barrier. CPP films are sometimes used in high-heat applications such as retort pouches and are commonly used for applications where hermetic seals and high-speed, automated machine wrapping is in use.
• Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) films are clear, durable, and lightweight, and have excellent heat resistance – making them useful for food packaging applications when laminated to a sealant layer such as CPP or PE, such as nutrition bar wraps and stand-up pouches. PET is also available with heat-sealable surfaces to produce lidding material for various types of semi-rigid containers.
• Nylon (PA)
Nylon (PA) is used as a lamination layer in flexible packaging for applications requiring high strength, durability, or puncture resistance. Nylon is commonly used as a component for vacuum packaging, meat wraps, and pouches that contain sharp items.
• Foil (ALU)
Foil is an extremely thin, flexible layer of Aluminum that is used singularly for wrapping chocolates or cheeses, as well as in a lamination layer for packaging applications requiring high barriers against light, moisture, and oxygen, or where an excellent “dead fold” characteristic is desired. Foil has historically been used as a component in coffee packaging; however it is not recyclable when laminated, and newer, recyclable film structures exist that meet these barrier needs.
• Cellulose – Cellophane
Cellulose film is made from renewable resources (wood pulp) and is biodegradable, making it an ideal component in sustainable flexible packaging solutions. It offers good barrier properties against moisture and an excellent barrier against oxygen. Cellophane has excellent “dead-fold” properties, making it ideal as a twist-wrap for candy. It is used in both food and non-food packaging applications, such as bags and twist wrap, or when laminated to another Bio-based film, horizontal flow wrapping film and stand-up pouches. Cellulose is compostable or biodegradable but is not commercially recyclable.
• Bio-based Polymers
Bio-based films (such as PLA, PHA, or BioPBS) are made from renewable resources and are biodegradable. These films offer similar sealing properties to traditional PE and are commonly used as the heat-sealable layer in lamination with Cellulose, for food and non-food packaging applications. Bio-based films are compostable but are not commercially recyclable.
We hope you found this article useful for learning more about the various types of flexible packaging materials and their use cases. Revere Flexpak is here to find beautiful solutions to your flexible packaging and label needs. Contact our experienced and dedicated sales team today.