If you’ve watched some amateur magic shows, you have probably seen the old magic trick where a magician rolls a newspaper into a cone shape, then pours a glass of milk into the cone, and presto! The magician unrolls the paper and there is no milk, or wet paper, to be found. It’s rather surprising to the audience that not only has the milk disappeared, but the newspaper did not get soaked and deteriorate before their very eyes.
Well there’s no magic involved in the latest packaging news for the bottle industry. Packaging World recently posted a video about how paper bottles are gaining momentum for new liquid products. According to Packaging World’s Editor Emeritus, Pat Reynolds, paper bottles are an emerging trend. Their purpose is to improve sustainability by using recycled materials and therefore result in less waste. Technological and manufacturing improvements have been rapidly accelerating since 2018 as the trend has caught on.
Reynolds cites two improvements that enhance recyclability considerably: the bottles utilize a much thinner plastic liner than ever before, and interlocking seams eliminate the need for glue. Early adopters of paper bottle technology are laundry detergent and household cleaning equipment brands, but the trend has more recently crept into prototypes for beer, wine, and other beverages
Reynolds cites two improvements that enhance recyclability considerably: the bottles utilize a much thinner plastic liner than ever before, and interlocking seams eliminate the need for glue. Early adopters of paper bottle technology are laundry detergent and household cleaning equipment brands, but the trend has more recently crept into prototypes for beer, wine, and other beverages.
We expect the trend to continue increasing traction within the beverage manufacturing space. And while it’s exciting to welcome new, sustainable technology, it is paramount to ensure the product inside is kept safe. Product inspection equipment such as food metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems are still one of the best means for ensuring a product is free from foreign material contamination.
A paper bottle featuring a plastic top and cap is relatively inert, making a great fit for inspection with a metal detector. Food metal detectors help find small particles of metal by utilizing coils wound on a nonmetallic frame and connected to a high-frequency radio transmitter. When a particle of metal passes through the aperture, the electromagnetic field is disturbed under one coil, changing the output signal by a few microvolts. This causes an alert and removes bottles containing metal pieces from the production line, no matter if the metal is in the liquid or embedded in the paper itself.
On the other hand, paper bottles used for beer featuring a metal cap will be best fit for inspection with a side-shooter x-ray inspection system. Industrial food X-ray inspection systems are based on the density of the product and the contaminant. As an X-ray penetrates a food product, it loses some of its energy. A dense area, such as a contaminant, will reduce the energy even further. As the X-ray exits the product, it reaches a sensor. The sensor then converts the energy signal into an image of the interior of the food product. Dense foreign material appears as a darker shade of grey and helps identify foreign contaminants.
X-ray inspection is impervious to metal packaging materials like caps or foils, and therefore can provide a high level of contaminant detection and in turn, food safety.
Every year, there are expensive product recalls from some of the biggest and most trusted brands in food manufacturing. And the risk for contamination is arguably higher for a new technology that is still dynamically changing.
Most food manufacturers utilize food weighing and inspection equipment as part of their food safety program to keep food and beverage processors and consumers, safe. They just have to make sure they utilize the latest and greatest technologies in the food safety space that are flexible and nimble enough to accommodate the newest packaging trends, like paper bottles, so their profits don’t disappear into thin air.