In June last year, I wrote that “the revolution in the bottling industry is on”. It seems to be working out that way, as recently we have seen some very interesting developments in beverage cans. No, not the well-known metal can, but beverage cans made from paperboard. These developments are pioneering in the aseptic can as well as in the paperboard packaging field.
After the, in Germany developed, Cartocan for 250ml energy drinks entered the market in 2010, a new Euro patent application (EP 2017178) emerged, relating to an identical drinks can made from paperboard. The third development, although not for beverages, but for motor oil, is from Sonoco UK.
Why these developments in paperboard cans for liquids? Beverage cans, traditionally made from metal, aluminium or tinplate, have become more expensive over the last years, whereas paperboard has remained consistently cheaper. But there is one more reason.
Paperboard cans are favoured by the European packaging laws. The paperboard can is classified as ‘Ecological Favourable Packaging’, a German typification in its “packaging laws”, which add 25 eurocents (a refundable packaging tax deposit) to the price of all metal cans sold by beverage resellers.
It is not surprising of course that all three are European developments. In the USA we don’t see a packaging tax, refundable or not, to protect the environment and stimulate recycling, and consequently we don’t see, as we see in Europe, the implementation of ‘packaging laws’ stimulating developments of more environmental friendly packaging formats.
Let’s have a detailed look at these three paperboard beverage cans.
The Composite Can
Paperboard hollow bodies aren’t new. Since ages we use the convulgated winded paperboard cans or tubes as we call them, but never for beverages. We all know the composite can or paperboard can used for dry products and sometimes for pastes, such as creams, balms and oil-based products.
Although often seen as a simple packaging format for simple products (see my post: “EcoPak and Ecocentric – What’s in a Name?” ). there are some examples of brilliant design using the composite can in the upscale market. One of these examples is the Biznaga range of Spanish Gourmet specialties.
The composite can or paperboard can or tube is mostly a round container comprised of a body with two ends made from a variety of materials. The packaging can be produced in many shapes and sizes. The container body is made from paper, and various liner materials to achieve barrier requirements and often completed with a printed label for packaging graphics.
The new paperboard can, which is made by Michael Hörauf Maschinenfabrik GmbH in Donzdorf / Germany and marketed under the brand name Cartocan, is a highly innovative and brand-appropriate take on the ubiquitous 250ml energy metal drink cans.
CartoCan is the new, high-quality packaging alternative to the tinplate and aluminium can. The slim, cylindrical, trendy format permits a clear positioning of the product at the point of sale.
With the CartoCan, as packaging format, Michael HörAuf offers a complete system for packaging production, sterilization and filling of beverages and food with a shelf life of 12 months. In addition to the aseptic filling of the CartoCan, the company ensures that the mild heat treatment retains the taste, texture, aroma and colour of the product as it undergoes, it claims, optimal processing.
Wood fibre is under ecological conditions a natural renewable and recyclable raw material. The properties of the material along with the environmentally friendly manufacturing and recycling process ensure that the CartoCan supports a brand’s environmental policies.
The CartoCan can be filled with from flavoured milk drinks to tea, from fruit juices to energy drinks.
Full system supplier IPI s.r.l. in Perugia/Italy is one of the system partners for CartoCan and provides the material, which is especially developed for this product. This ensures a full compatibility between equipment and material.
The multi-layer structure is designed in order to produce a protective barrier for the products to be filled. Its structural integrity guarantees preservation of the contents of the product during its entire shelf-life.
Cartocan cans (capacity 200 to 250 ml) feature carton barrier laminates (aluminium or EVOH layers inside and outside are optional), flexographic printing, sleeve material printed in 5 colours, and a wide choice of designs.
Cartocan can be recycled in the same manner as milk cartons.
The Keienburg Paperboard Can
Recently a new Euro patent application (EP 2017178 in German) emerged, relating to an identical drinks can made from paperboard. There is not yet an official brand name available for this can, so I call it, for the time being, after the inventor Günther Keienburg.
Let’s first look at the abstract of EP 2017178 (A2): “The casing comprises a parallelly coiled layer of cellulose-containing material in the form of cardboard and/or pasteboard, and a liquid-proof functional layer. An inner casing surface facing content of the container includes an ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer barrier layer with a weight of 10 grams per meter square. A container wall includes a four layer sulphate cardboard with a weight of 250 grams per meter square. The material comprises polyethylene and polyamide coatings”.
It’s a development of Keienburg Agentur für Verpackung GmbH in Rhauderfehn / Germany, which, alongside the cans, offers production units to erect the can body. This gives drinks manufacturers the ability to make the paperboard cans at source, eliminating the high costs for transportation and storage of empty metal cans.
To produce the cardboard can only board reels and can tops and ends are delivered to the fillers. One reel of 4 feet diameter and 0.5 feet width is equivalent to 4.000 cans. The production units offered by Keienburg are said to be capable of producing in excess of 40,000 paperboard cans every single hour.
Currently used filling lines only need simple modifications to process the paperboard cans as standard aluminium pull up can tops are used. This newly introduced production system is said to save up to 30% of the production costs.
The difference between the Cartoncan and the Keienburg can is that the Cartoncan uses an adhesive tape to cover and close the drinking hole in the paperboard top of the can, while Keienburg uses the standard original metal can ends, creating an almost identical beverage can as we know it. This difference in can construction is important as the Keienburg can is designed for carbonised beverages, just like its metal carbon copy.
The Sonoco rigid paperboard can for motor oils
Last month Sonoco, the world’s oldest and largest producer of paperboard cans, also entered, via its UK subsidiary, the market of paperboard cans for liquids. However not for beverages as the former two, but for motor oils.
Sonoco’s solution was a rigid paper container with metal ends that offers the same product appearance and protection for liquids, but at a lower cost and using far more sustainable materials. According to Sonoco, the screw-top, paperboard can is durable enough to last the required product’s four year shelf life.
Furthermore the company claims that the rigid paper container demonstrates significant economic and environmental improvements in its life cycle assessment when compared to the steel can that is generally used in the motor oil market. Not only does it result in a 27% reduction in material weight inputs and reduces the customer’s shipping and handling costs, it also results in a 34% reduction in energy inputs, a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 2% reduction in chemical bad actors.
Now start thinking. Use your imagination.
Some months ago I wrote about the new Evero Aseptic paperboard bottle from Tetra. Although I think Sonoco is using its convulgated winded paperboard tubes, cutting them in the required sizes, HörAuf and Keienburg are rolling a paperboard sheet in a similar way as Tetra is doing for its Evero.
The Keienburg can uses aluminium ends as are commonly used for 3-piece metal tins. Tetra is using a plastic shoulder/neck which is glued into the paperboard body.
You can see that the Keyenburg paperboard can assembled with a shoulder/neck piece, results in a paperboard can with an aluminium or plastic bottom end and a shoulder/neck, emerging into a full bottle with screw cap facility.
Compare also the development of the Aisa can, I wrote about in my article “Tetra Evero Aseptic and AisaCan – The Revolution of Multi-Material Bottles”
A fascinating evolution in beverage bottles and cans is awaiting us.