Blister meets Paper: Syntegon and Huhtamaki develop sustainable alternative

German Packaging Institute Award for sustainable tablet packaging

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paper blister Syntegon Huhtamaki
The paper-based solution ‘Blister meets Paper’ from Syntegon and Huhtamaki won this years’ German Packaging Award in the ‘Sustainability’ category Image Syntegon

Once again, the German Packaging Institute (Deutsches Verpackungsinstitut e.V.) has honored Syntegon with the German Packaging Award – this time in the ‘Sustainability’ category. A report dated 27 July 2021 says, the jury was impressed by the sustainability and good functionality of the paper-based packaging solution ‘Blister meets Paper,’ which should also appeal to the health and environmentally-conscious customer in terms of feel and appearance. Syntegon developed the innovative blister packaging together with the Finnish packaging material manufacturer Huhtamaki.

While eco-friendly and health-conscious customers can already find sustainable packaging solutions for a wide range of products, an environmentally friendly alternative for push-through packaging for tablets and capsules was not available to date. That’s something we wanted to change with Blister meets Paper,” Torsten Sauer, Sustainability Project manager at Syntegon, explains. The paper-based blisters are particularly suitable for nutraceuticals. In the submitted version, each blister has seven cavities for one tablet per weekday.

Syntegon Billerud Fibreform
Syntegon’s TPU, in combination with BillerudKorsnäs’ 3D-formable FibreForm paper, allows for fine embossing and tablet cup forming, while Huhtamaki’s sealable barrier coating provides the necessary product protection Image Syntegon

Sustainable & safe blister uses BillerudKorsnäs FibreForm paper 

While paper-based packaging offers advantages in terms of sustainability, it requires additional barrier layers to adequately protect the product without compromising recyclability. In addition, the tablets and capsules have to be pushed out of the blisters without being damaged. “This challenge addresses both the material and the geometry of the packaging,” explains Matthias Klauser, Sustainability expert at Syntegon. “Thanks to the combination of our TPU 1000 form, fill and seal machine for paper packaging,the 3D-formable FibreForm paper from BillerudKorsnäs, and the sealable barrier coating from Huhtamaki, we have succeeded in forming paper with the geometry required for tablets in cavities of three to four millimeters.” In the future, the paper blisters will also be available with diameters of six to ten millimeters to package larger tablets such as pain killers.

Packaging material expert Huhtamaki used the same sealable barrier coating for the blister’s lidding material as in the base material, and finished it with a special process to push the tablet easily through the material. The environmentally friendly material concept consisting of a thermoformable base film and a push-through lidding film with barrier coating is marketed as ‘Huhtamaki Push Tab paper.’ The thermoformable barrier and seal layer is also heat-sealable, which makes the paper blister packaging’s barrier properties comparable to classic blister packaging made of mono-PVC or aluminum. “At the same time, we never lost sight of the sustainability aspect: both the base and lidding material can be be recycled,” Sauer emphasizes.

tablet blister packaging
Tablets and capsules can be easily pressed through the blister’s cover material and removed Image Syntegon

Sustainable eye-catcher at the point of sale

Blister meets Paper attracts attention at the point of sale – not only due of its sustainable material, but also because of its numerous design options. The paper blisters can be printed on both sides, while an embossed brand logo can be applied to the top. A Euro hole can be punched in the upper area of the blister, which saves large quantities of packaging material compared to conventional blisters in folding cartons. “This offers many opportunities for a successful product presentation that emphasizes the environmental friendliness of the product. Manufacturers can also add Braille to the blisters or print a QR code for further information. The latter saves on the package insert and the cardboard outer packaging,” Sauer explains. “The result is a sophisticated all-round packaging concept for nutraceuticals that support customers in taking care of both their health and the environment.”

The German Packaging Award

The German Packaging Institute dvi has been awarding the German Packaging Award since 1963. The international competition is the most important European showcase of achievements in the packaging industry and is held annually under the patronage of the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy. An independent jury evaluates the best innovations and solutions in a total of ten categories. Sustainability was one of this year’s focal points.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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