Sustainable flexible packaging – gravure print on polyethyleneSB Packaging walks the talkSB Packaging’s modern plant near Delhi is on the way to Rohtak in Haryana. When we reported on the plant in 2012 it had all the components – blown film lines, a Bobst-Schiavi CI flexo press, an Expert 8-color gravure press and a Bobst-Schiavi solventless laminator but it was still emerging from difficult times. The company has grown fast in the past three years as it completes the implementation of a modernization strategy focussed on producing high value and sustainable packaging cost-effectively. The now debt-free company is mindful of its own financial sustainability as well.Personal care and food packaging produced by SB Packaging. Photo PSAPolyethylene is sustainable
Although SB Packaging still does what it would describe as commodity packaging and provides packaging material in roll form, 80% or more of its work now consists in supplying special application pouches, bags and materials for the personal care and food industry. The company champions the use of polyethylene (PE) which it can produce in very close tolerances on its new 3-layer internal bubble cooling (IBC) Windsor blown film line configured with special dozing and precision thickness and temperature control systems from the US-based Conair.
Conair’s precise dozing system and its sophisticated controls on the internal bubble cooling (with two independent chilling systems) means that the 3-layer co-extruded polyethylene can be a high quality clear and precision thickness film as thin as 20 microns. Amit Banga, CEO, SB Packaging, says, “The production of high quality low thickness single polymer films goes a long way in packaging film sustainability. You can tick the boxes on two of the three R’s – Reduce, Recycle and Re-use – firstly you Reduce by light-weighting the film; and secondly you make it easy to Recycle because a single co-extruded PE film is inherently more recyclable – in fact even printed PE scrap fetches several times the price of other flexible laminates. Scrap dealers are happy to come to our plant to sort and pick up the printed and un-printed scrap.”
Pushing the envelope with gravure
Banga says that SB Packaging did not buy the new Indian made 9-color Kohli Industries gravure press on price alone, “We first narrowed down the suppliers that were ‘flexible’ – ready to help us incorporate and try out some of our innovative ideas and needs. We wanted a gravure press that could print on 20 micron PE and even lower thickness extensible materials particularly polyethylene and we needed a slightly wider 1.4 metre-width gravure press that made the packaging for the products we had in mind cost-effective, while keeping us profitable.” Kohli was the most amenable to innovative changes and trials and ready to suitably modify the system to produce high quality on thin extensible substrates together with incorporating the appropriate automation features including an EcoAxis registration system. SB’s technology strategy seems to have gained traction in the industry and Kohli has been able to sell a couple of more presses in similar configurations.
Banga is not looking to compete with the majority of low price producers of single commodity flexible packaging. Specializing in supplying to global manufacturers of personal care, food and FMCG products in India and their exports to developed markets, he wants the customized pouches and bags that SB Packaging makes, to be used on high speed automated packaging lines – not just fill and seal but especially the pick and seal lines used by global brands for their personal care and hygiene products. The company rarely supplies rolls of packaging material, preferring to supply batches of bags produced on its XL and Mamta converting machines that incorporate suitable components for both manual and automated pick and seal lines.