Multinational flexible packaging and solutions company UFlex displayed its latest line of coated PET products with transparent and high-barrier properties, post-consumer recycled (PCR) films, and biodegradable films at Hiplex 2023 in Hyderabad in August.
Highlighting the key features of coated PET products, Ashish Saxena, joint president of the packaging films business of UFlex, said, “These are water-based coatings with little or no volatile organic content and excellent oxygen barrier properties. As compared to other ways of achieving high-barrier properties in transparent films such as physical vapor deposition of metal oxides such as AlOx, and SiOx, by surface coating PVOH, PVDC, or by laminating PET films with EVOH-PE films, UFlex’s proprietary coated transparent BOPET films deliver better oxygen barrier, shelf life, consistency, lamination bond, humidity resistance and cost benefits”.
During the exhibition, the company showcased the latest transparent barrier films –ULP, XLP, and ECOPET – which have different oxygen and water vapor barrier properties and price points to meet diverse customer needs. This innovation enables food companies to display their products in a transparent format, ensuring excellent visibility and extended shelf life.
The company also showcased its environment-friendly and recyclable heat-sealable and peelable film. This heat-sealable and peelable film (F-WSP) is a high-quality mono-material solution (PET-based) for use as a lidding film on APET & RPET containers. It is sealed using heat and can be effortlessly peeled open without facing the hassles of spillage of food contents, the company said.
During the interaction, Saxena highlighted the Dharwad plant in Karnataka as a strategic investment by UFlex to meet customer requirements in southern India. “We are here to serve our customers locally and give them the best possible service, quality, and innovation,” he said.
Saxena said the southern market is different from others and requires tailored products and solutions. “There’s always some difference from region to region. If we take the consumption patterns in southern India, there is a high demand for food items such as confectionery, take away food, etc., and this means the share of metalized film in the southern region is a lot higher”.
“Hiplex 2023 offered an ideal platform for UFlex to meet potential customers from the southern region and make them aware of our manufacturing presence in Dharwad,” he added.
“The biggest challenge that we face as an industry is the perception that all plastics are harmful to the environment. But the reality is different. Rather than nullifying plastics, we must use them responsibly,” said Saxena.
Saxena lauded the government for having a very progressive view on the implementation of plastic regulation. “Instead of a knee-jerk reaction of banning all kinds of plastic, the Indian government and regulators have been astute about banning select single-use plastics where sustainable alternatives are available and regulated the rest through a comprehensive Extend Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework that emphasizes collection, recycling, and use of recycled content in packaging”.
UFlex is going beyond its EPR commitments laid down for packaging producers and other plastic products. “Our ongoing efforts extend to the establishment of recycling infrastructure. Notably, we have had a multi-layer mixed plastic recycling plant at our Noida facility for nearly three decades, adept at recycling rigid plastics and laminate waste from consumers and industrial processes. We have expanded this initiative to Poland and Mexico, where we have set up similar post-consumer recycling units,” Saxena said.
“We have seamlessly integrated sustainability into our corporate strategy at UFlex, driven by an ambitious target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2035. Working toward this goal, we are actively striving to enhance the incorporation of recycled content in our products. Our portfolio encompasses a robust selection of sustainable films, a notable example being the Asclepius brand, which features a film comprising up to 100% recycled content,” Saxena said.
A lot of innovation in packaging that we are witnessing today is going to increase manifold in the future. “As we witness significant economic growth and an increase in income levels, the demand for more value-added packaging is going to increase, giving rise to a lot of new formats,” Saxena said.
As sustainability is the keyword in recent times, Saxena believes that “Every single packaging decision will be evaluated from a sustainability point of view.”