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KHS Group has introduced a new paper technology that provides an alternative to shrink film or wrap-around cartons for cans. The company’s Innopack Kisters tray packers can wrap cans of food and beverages in paper.

KHS said the sustainability results with paper are similar to cardboard, but costs are lower with paper, as less energy and fewer materials are used. With a few minor adjustments existing machines can also be converted to the new setup.

Karl-Heinz Klumpe, packaging product manager at KHS, said the idea of using paper as a secondary packaging is not new; KHS first experimented with this about 20 years ago.

“Back then, this technology didn’t catch on, however, as paper was a cost-intensive raw material and wrapping containers in film yielded better results regarding stability,” Klumpe said.

“Our customers now want alternatives to the usual packaging systems such as film. These should be as ecofriendly as possible.”

To this end, the paper wrapping has now been developed together with an international beverage producer. This type of pack can replace shrink film or wrap-around carton packaging for transportation or sale on packs of 12 or 24 cans in the high-capacity range of up to 90,000 cans per hour.

To wrap cans in paper instead of film, some adjustments are needed to the Innopack Kisters tray packer.

“KHS is increasingly supplying modular systems and solutions that enable and ease the appropriate conversions to our machines. In this case, we’ve simply reengineered the process module for folding and wrapping,” Klumpe said.

“The standard components such as tray separation from the magazine, gluing or can feed are identical to those on the hundreds of proven KHS machines already on the market.”

According to KHS, this allows beverage producers to have the tray packers already in operation at their plants converted simply by adapting certain modules, making a full new investment unnecessary.

Klumpe said wrapping cans in paper has many advantages over other materials.

“On the one hand, paper is kinder to the environment than film with respect to ocean pollution, for instance. Paper biodegrades in the environment after a few weeks,” he said.

“On the other hand, fewer packaging materials are used. Instead of a sturdy wrap-around carton or film packs on trays, packaging cans in thinner paper only needs a flat, stable corrugated card pad as a base – with identical results regarding stability.”

KHS said costs are cut by the new paper pack – compared with a wrap-around carton by up to 15 per cent, with outgoings about the same as for film.

Overheads are also considerably reduced by the low energy consumption of about 14 kWh an hour at 80 cycles a minute, according to the company. The folding process is such that the pack is also fully enclosed. “In contrast, dirt can get into film packs with small side openings. Over long distances especially paper has the clear advantage when it comes to protecting the pack,” Klumpe said.

Klumpe said there is huge potential for the new KHS technology.

“When I think how much food is canned all over the world, with our paper pack we offer a useful alternative to conventional secondary packaging. With our system we can significantly help to cut down on the amount of plastic waste being generated,” he said.

Klumpe went on to say this will support the efforts being made throughout the entire sector to protect the environment. “Sustainability is also always a cost factor, however. With our new approach we’re catering for both aspects here,” he said.

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