Fruit Plastic Packaging Solutions
Jun 20, 2018
Fruit is one of the trickiest products to package efficiently. It has to remain both fresh and undamaged until it reaches the consumer, taking up as little space as possible during transit and storage. Packaging requirements also need to cater for the fact that fruit is extremely delicate compared to other food items and each type of fruit has its own individual shape and size.
Environmentally conscious growers and packaging suppliers are also concerned with reducing the amount of waste produced from their packaging solutions as much as possible. Recyclable packaging is a good option when looking for an environmentally friendly packaging solution. Using materials that can be re-manufactured over and over causes less impact on the planet and its resources along with less waste headed to landfill. Well-designed plastic packaging is highly recyclable as well as secure and efficient.
Types Of Fruit Packaging
There are several different fruit plastic packaging solutions available, each created to meet the needs of individual fruits.
Available with or without holes, these are plastic packages that combine a hinged lid and container in one. They come in a range of different sizes and styles, and are ideally suited to small fruits such as tomatoes, cherries, strawberries and other berries in particular.
The Clamshell packaging has grooves in the lid and sides to make it possible to “lock” them closed even after opening, so they’re very convenient for the consumer. The holes can be made in the lid, base or no holes at all – holes keep the product fresher and allow it to breathe, but also allow contaminants in.
Generally a deep container with no lid, open punnets are ideal for fruits with an odd shape or odd quantities as well as for fruit like tomatoes, apricots and kiwifruit. Fruit is easily displayed and attractively presented.
A couple of drawbacks of open punnets is they do require additional packaging to cover the top, this usually involves plastic wrap of some kind as well as an elastic band to keep it on. Also open punnets cannot be stacked directly on top of one another.
Some fruits are best held in place separately, and in these cases trays are a good solution. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes with grooves designed to hold each fruit snuggly and safely both during transit and on display.
Trays can usually be stacked on top of one another when filled with product. They suit products such as apples, pears and other kinds of fruit that bruise if they move around too much during the storage and transportation process.
Unsure what should you be looking for when considering recyclable plastic packaging? While many plastics are made up of recyclable materials it is important to note that unless it is entirely recyclable it will become landfill.
Often when we see the small icons containing numbers that are surrounded by arrows we think the product is recyclable, this is not always the case. There are seven codes commonly used to identify plastics, those made from Types 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE) and 4 (LDPE) are the easiest to recycle, so you should look at these materials if you are producing plastic packaging or products.
Type 1 PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate
Containers made from PET are lightweight and clear in appearance, they provide good storage and containment properties particularly in the storage and containment of fruit.
These plastics can be crushed and shredded into small flakes allowing them to be reprocessed into new PET containers or spun into polyester fibre. The recycled fibre can be used to make many things including garments, carpets and stuffing for pillows.
- RPET. PET can often be reclassified as RPET when made from recycled PET products.
- CPET. When PET is crystallised to withstand high heat.
- APET. The same as PET, officially labelled Amorphous PET due to processing methods often the ‘A’ is just left off.
Type 2 HDPE or High-Density Polyethylene
HDPE plastic is hard-wearing, withstanding the pressures of sunlight and extreme temperatures, for this reason, HDPE is often used in products which require durability and weather-resistance.
The high strength characteristics of HDPE make it perfect for the production of outdoor furniture, rubbish bins and park benches.
Type 4 LDPE or Low-Density Polyethylene
LDPE plastics provide greater flexibility in packaging as well as the ability to resist oils and acids. LDPE is considered less toxic than other plastics, and includes things like plastic wrap and grocery bags.
When recycled, LDPE plastic can be utilised in the production of outdoor furniture, landscaping edging, bin liners and floor tiles.
The remaining plastic types; 3 Poly Vinyl Chloride PVC, 5 Polypropylene PP, 6 Polystyrene PS and 7 simply classified as “Other” are less commonly recycled around the world, and not at all in New Zealand due to contamination and the high cost of recycling these materials.
Fruit can be a difficult product to store and package, working with specialist packaging suppliers is essential for safe transport, storage and delivery to the consumer.