New system packages food products in unique seaweed formulation

Date: 15.01.2024Source: Handtmann

The Handtmann ConProSachet system offers a new process for packaging fluid or pasty food products and food supplements in sachets, using a seaweed-based material, rather than plastic as a casing. A new strategic partnership with Notpla – the creators of this unique seaweed-based material – allows this novel approach to replacing plastic films thus helping to reduce plastic. Notpla’s material is made using seaweed, one of nature’s most sustainable resources. Globally abundant and fast-growing, seaweed does not require freshwater, land or fertiliser. It is one of our greatest weapons against climate change – reducing ocean acidification and effectively absorbing carbon. The most significant advantage is that the sachets are edible and can simply be ingested, or disposed of in organic waste after use, because they biodegrade within a few weeks. The strong trend towards take-away and snacking as well as convenience and ready meals renders this particularly relevant in gastronomy and food service, where ready-made sauces, dips, dressings, jams and much more are used packaged in small, individual portions.

The technology of the ConProSachet employs a co-extrusion process that produces Notpla’s seaweed casing material at the same time the product is filled instead of using a pre-fabricated plastic film. A specially shaped co-extrusion head, which first forms a flow pack from the paste-like seaweed-based material, facilitates this process. Then the product is filled. Circulating dividing elements compress the filled flow pack and separate it into a coherent chain of individual portions, the so-called sachets. In the process, the seaweed-based material gels out completely and seals the sachets, which are then separated into individual portions. The sachets are reliably closed thanks to a uniform and precise seal that is only a few tenths of a millimetre thick. The individual process steps from producing the casing to sealing the products are precisely coordinated in terms of both time and space, as the forming and reliable sealing of the ends must take place while the gelling process of the seaweed material has not yet been fully completed. The individual sachets thus created, which are enveloped in an elastic gel casing, can then be further treated and packaged.

The ConProSachet system is designed to be energy efficient, intuitive in handling and easy to convert to different sachet sizes. Conversion is achieved by simply replacing the co-extrusion head and the conveyor belts designed as mould components with dividing elements. The system for the production of sachets on an industrial level was developed in cooperation with Notpla – the UK material innovation company and winner of the Earthshot Prize for environmental innovation.  For more visit handtmann.com/food

David Cox / IDM

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