A life cycle assessment (LCA) of the bag-in-box packaging format underlines its strong environmental credentials and endorses it as an alternative to conventional packaging formats for wine and liquid foods, claims a European supplier of this type of packaging
Rapak said that it recently commissioned sustainability consultants PIRA to compile an independent report with the specific aim of assessing and comparing the potential life cycle environmental impacts of bag-in-box technology with alternative liquid packaging formats.
The study, claims the company, compared 30 different packaging formats over the range of market categories and considered the weight of packaging raw materials as key in terms of impact on distribution.
“As a responsible packaging producer, we need to be aware of and reduce the environmental impact of our products,” said Jean Paul Roosendaal, sales and marketing director for the company.
The LCA technique incorporates the different stages of a product’s life cycle to assess how ‘green’ a product or packaging material is, including raw material extraction, manufacture, transport and usage through to waste processing and disposal.
An inventory is made of each stage in terms of energy and material consumption as well as emissions released into the environment, to determine a packaging material or product’s carbon footprint.
“The PIRA report’s conclusion that bag-in-box systems were ‘environmentally competitive’ and in many cases superior to alternative packaging formats in the categories considered has qualified what has long been felt about this packaging medium,” added Roosendaal.
However, he stressed that the purpose of the LCA was not to prove that one packaging format was better than another - “there are too many variable factors for any pack realistically to be able to take that position,” conceded Roosendaal.
But he said that such a study allows its customers to make informed decisions in the selection of packaging for their particular products, adding environmental considerations alongside factors such as packaging performance and consumer requirements.
According to Rapak, the bag-in-box format generates up to five times less waste than rigid containers, thanks to the fact that empty packs collapse fully to reduce space during disposal and, in addition, the cardboard outer is fully recyclable.
Rapak added that it was continuing to look at developing bag-in-box materials to offer to food and beverage companies for use across the retail and service industry, with water an increasingly important area.
In this continued push for use of the format with waters, the group said it is targeting specific markets such as Northern European, where it says such products are already widely available in five and ten litre sizes.