Multi-layer flexible packaging that sandwiches high density film between plastic layers does the best job of protecting the freshness of tea, but it is also the most difficult combination to recycle.
Harney & Sons Fine Tea found a solution to this dilemma by partnering with a team from TC Transcontinental Packaging, Dow Packaging and Charter NEX Films, to introduce the first 100% recyclable EVOH barrier pouch. The two-layer polypropylene is light and a good medium for a colorful marketing message.
Todd Addison, vice president, Business Development at TC Transcontinental Packaging said “we salute Harney & Sons for driving this important sustainable initiative. Our collaboration was the perfect match as sustainability and innovation run deep in our organization, both in our operations and our partnerships. This shared core value and collaborative mindset fueled our sustainable design process and resulted in a product worthy of bearing the Harney & Sons name.”
The co-extruded packaging with an EVOH Poly(Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol) layer provides an outstanding barrier to gasses, organic vapors and moisture, preventing deterioration of the product and extending its shelf life. The interior laminate won’t weaken from exposure to natural oils that give tea leaves and blends their flavor. EVOH also enhances seal strength and increases durability. The polypropylene exterior layers are easily printed to market the tea.
The challenge from a sustainability perspective is that pouches of this type are not easily broken down and recycled, therefore hindering its reuse and contribution to positive environmental change. Dow’s Retain resin technology provided the single-stream recycling solution, explains Addison.
Marketing director Emeric Harney said “Harney & Sons has always desired to use more friendly materials for our planet. Since 2006 we’ve been a member of 1% for the Planet, and our goal is to move toward more recyclable and compostable components in our packaging.” Contributions total $3.5 million during that period.
Harney connected with the Montreal-based Transcontinental team last year. Harney wanted a lighter two-layer film that did not sacrifice shelf life. The film was downgauged from the original three-ply structure used in the previous package. Prototypes led to the introduction of the new pouches in November 2018.
The pouches are purchased die-cut and are hand-packed with tea at retail locations. The half-pound pouch replaces the existing half-pound tin used in Harney & Sons off-the-shelf consumer stores, but the successful pilot and launch promises to lead to other package applications, perhaps in foodservice.
Harney & Sons packages more than 300 teas for distribution in grocery, mass market and convenience outlets worldwide. Transcontinental operates 28 production plants in six countries.