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Expanded polystyrene is expected to become the leading packaging material for fresh meat

2019-05-13

   

Polypropylene packaging materials that have been widely used in fresh meat packaging will gradually be eliminated by the market, and expanded polystyrene will become the leading material for fresh meat packaging in the near future.

After years of neglect, many European thermoplastic molding processors are keen to use thermoplastic expanded polystyrene materials for fresh meat packaging. Industry experts acknowledge that there are still many deficiencies in the expanded polystyrene packaging that need improvement. The reason why users tend to use polypropylene is because the thermoplastic molded polypropylene package is cheaper and more durable. However, polypropylene packaging boxes also have technical problems that are difficult to solve, such as poor stability of the package when heated, blurring of the sealing film, poor transparency, and slow packing speed during processing.

Last year LINPAC acquired a polypropylene and non-crystalline polyester packaging manufacturer in Bertinoro, Italy. The polymer materials currently used by LIN-PAC include: polystyrene, high impact polystyrene, biaxially oriented polystyrene, polypropylene, amorphous polyester, and K resin. As a company that has been in the thermoplastic molding market for more than 80 years, the company also believes that expanded polystyrene packaging will soon become popular.

Insufficient performance

Expanded polystyrene is not short-lived as a raw material for the production of packaging materials, and has excellent processing properties, and can well accept polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride film as an outer packaging film. However, the shortcoming is that the high temperature stability of the expanded polystyrene package is slightly inferior, which makes it impossible to occupy a place in the fast-growing microwave food packaging market. When expanded polystyrene is used as a packaging material for perishable foods, it is also necessary to add a layered barrier clay material to improve its gas barrier property, which increases the production cost and is not conducive to recycling. However, the most significant drawback of expanded polystyrene is that the thickness of the produced package is about 3 mm, which means that the box with a steep angle cannot be made. The polypropylene packaging box happens to have the characteristics that the expanded polystyrene packaging box does not have, which makes the expanded polystyrene packaging box not replace the polypropylene packaging box in a short time.

Expandable Polystyrene Lunch box.jpg

Anti-theft foam polystyrene box

LINPAC said the company is using the expanded polystyrene box to open up the market. The company has solved problems such as corners and stacking during the production of expanded polystyrene packaging. LINPAC has mastered all the techniques for producing expanded polystyrene packaging, so the thickness of the bottom of the expanded polystyrene packaging box does not need to be too thick, so that the packaging stack is not too high. The company's raw materials for the production of expanded polystyrene packaging are only 50% or less of the rigid polypropylene packaging, and the expanded polystyrene packaging has excellent gas barrier properties and can be absorbed and aggregated. The gravy at the bottom of the box.

The new expanded polystyrene boxes produced by LINPAC are stacked to a thickness of only 2/3 of the same number of standard expanded polystyrene boxes. The company not only increased the variety of existing packaging, but also expanded the research and development of new products. For example, the company produces an expanded polystyrene box called “LINfo” that is moderately thick and has an anti-theft card on the bottom of the box that is not easily visible to consumers. These anti-theft cards can be detected at the store's checkout counter and sound an alarm when exiting through the store's Electronic Security System (EAS). About 5% of high value-added meat products are stolen in European supermarkets, so the use of LINfo expanded polystyrene boxes is practical.

Expanded polystyrene for microwave oven

Another new packaging material for LINPAC is the expanded polystyrene box for microwave ovens under the trade name "LINcool". The company places high hopes on the expanded polystyrene packaging for LINcool microwave ovens, and hopes to be widely used in the meat convenience food packaging market.

British food chain Tesco uses expanded foam polystyrene boxes for LINcool microwave ovens in its cafeteria. Foaming

The thermal insulation properties of polystyrene packaging are critical, and good thermal insulation properties allow consumers to get burnt when removing the package from the microwave oven. The upper limit temperature at which the human body feels too hot to touch is 55 °C. Polypropylene packaging boxes or crystalline polyester packaging boxes for microwave ovens can reach 80 °C when the food is heated to 120 °C, which far exceeds the limits that the human body can tolerate. However, under the same conditions, the expanded polystyrene package has a temperature of only 38 ° C, and at the same time maintains its hardness while heating and reduces the rate of oil spill. However, when the temperature is 105 °C, the hardness of the LINcool box is about 80% higher than that of the polypropylene box or the crystalline polyester box. At low temperatures, the thermal insulation properties of the expanded polystyrene package are still outstanding. At an ambient temperature of -30 ° C, the thermal insulation performance is 70% higher than that of a polypropylene package or a crystalline polyester package. In particular, the LINcool expanded polystyrene box is heated faster than similar products in microwave ovens, which can save a lot of energy, so it is especially suitable for hotels and restaurants that need to repeatedly heat large quantities of food every day.

LINPAC believes that these innovative products will replace the use of polypropylene in the meat packaging sector in the future. Food processors have had any problems with the use of expanded polystyrene packaging materials to replace the now widely used rigid polypropylene packaging material wood. Food processors do not need to change the equipment for the filling/sealing line when switching to expanded polystyrene packaging. Moreover, the use of expanded polystyrene packaging materials can improve the anti-fog performance and packaging speed of the package.

Technological innovations in the food processing industry, such as improvements in automatic packaging and filling equipment, make the application of expanded polystyrene packaging materials more common than polypropylene. Expanded polystyrene packaging materials will be widely used in food packaging after conquering some performance defects.

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