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Cereal Packaging Report 2017

Stand Up Pouches - Product Packaging Done Right

The Problems With Biodegradable Stand Up Pouches

Posted by David Marinac

Biodegradable flexible packagingWe are often asked for biodegradable stand up pouches where the client has confused the terms biodegradable with recyclable.  We understand this can be confusing as both of these terms have been used together so often people assume they mean the same thing.  They don't.  For something to biodegrade it needs to break down in air and sunlight over time.  Stand up pouches are made for a few specific reasons, one so they protect the contents inside from moisture and vapor and odor, etc, and two so they can stand effectively on a store shelf.  In order to accomplish this, the film used must be strong and stable and durable.  The film used for stand up pouches, printed or plain, is laminated film.  This lamination provides strength while at the same time providing the barrier properties to protect what is inside the pouch. 

When determining the best packaging for your products, there are many factors to consider.  The nature of your product (liquid, solid, powder?), the requisite shelf life (immediate sale and use or months on the shelf or in the garage?), and whether you prefer bags, cans, canisters, or boxes, are all factors that need to be addressed.  Given the options available, it's not an easy decision to make.  We don't have all the answers, but when it comes to stand up pouches, we know a thing or two.   As an industry leader, we know what it takes to make the best recyclable stand up pouches.  Here's what you need to look for:  

Are they recyclable Seems obvious, doesn't it?  But it really isn't.  There's actually a good deal of misinformation out there about what constitutes environmentally sound packaging.  Biodegradable packaging, while perhaps the most responsible concept, isn't really an option, simply because the packaging needs to last (which is counter to the whole notion of something being biologically degradable).  The next best option is packaging that is actually recyclable, capable of being broken down after use into materials suitable for creating new products.  Here's what we think you should look for: 

Versatility.  If your products are varied or you offer them in multiple sizes/weights/quantities, your stand up pouches should be versatile enough to accommodate your needs.  The benefit is twofold: 

  1. You don't need to deal with more than one vendor.
  2. Your product line maintains a uniform appearance in stores, one which consumers will come to identify with your brand (and we all know how important solid brand identification is!). 

Flexibility.  In addition to being flexible in a figurative sense (see Versatility above)  your stand up pouches should also be structurally flexible.  With a barrier made of multiple layers of scientifically-formulated film, stand up pouches are soft-sided enough so that they can be transported, displayed, and stored quite easily. 

Strength.  The optimal stand up pouch is strong, durable, and puncture resistant.  It stands up to the rigors of transport, handling by the retailer, and storage.  You'd also want the structure to hold it's shape as well. 

Convenience.  The ideal recyclable pouch has features that make it user-friendly.  Options such as tear notches for easy opening, pour spouts and resealable caps for liquids, and zip lock closures, are among the features that render a good stand up pouch the best recyclable stand up pouch for you.  

Other eco-friendly characteristics.  In addition to whether your stand up pouch alternative is recyclable, there are other factors that impact whether the package is truly environmentally responsible:

  • Is manufacture of the pouch sensitive to the use of resources?  For example, how much material goes into making each pouch or how much energy is required to produce that pouch versus other types of packaging (glass bottle, metal tin, plastic tub, etc).  Studies have shown that the best way to help our environment is to reduce the amount of packaging being used and ultimately sent to a landfill (such as transition from a rigid or semi rigid package to something using far less plastic like a stand up pouch).  Again, using less material means the packaging weighs less and, therefore, requires less fuel to produce, transport, and store per unit than other choices.
  • Not all pouches are created equal.  The best stand up pouch requires no additional material to make an inner liner or outer packaging which eliminates both the cost and use of energy normally associated with production of that extra packaging.  
  • Is the manufacture of the pouch energy-efficient?  Are production processes streamlined?  
  • Is the packaging tough enough to survive all stages of the production process without a high degree of failure?
  • What happens to your packaging if it doesn't get recycled?  While not biodegradable, a properly designed stand up pouch made of the minimal amount of material necessary will take up less space and volume in a landfill, OR it can be ground up and used to make other types of plastic products. 

There's no such thing as a perfect package, of course.  However, if you take these important factors into consideration, you're almost certainly going to end up with the best stand up recyclable pouches available for your products.  

Topics: Custom Printed Flexible Packaging