Stanelco markets new tray heat sealing technology

Related tags Supermarket Packaging

A former UK manufacturing company has found another use for its
radio frequency technology - sealing plastic tray packages of
perishable food for supermarkets, retailers and grocers.

When used with the modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) method, Stanelco's Greenseal heat-sealing technology is cheaper, better for the environment and helps ensure that perishable foods are safer for the consumer, said the company's deputy chief executive officer, Howard White.

"Greenseal provides the tightest, most efficient seal available in packaging anywhere in the world,"​ he said. "This is the Holy Grail for tray packaging."

Stanelco has already launched the product in the UK in a partnership with the ASDA supermarket chain. This week the company opened an office in Orlando, Florida. The company plans to target ASDA's parent company, Wal-Mart, along with Albertson's, Kroger's and Safeway.

The MAP method works by replacing the air with a mixture of inert gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The package is then heat sealed. The low-oxygen mix extends the shelf-life of the meat, vegetables and other perishable foods by up to 15 days from the normal five days.

However, typical MAP heat-seal processing results in about two per cent of the packaged food not being sealed properly, resulting in wasted food, or worse, food that may have gone bad before its stated shelf-life.

Stanelco's radio frequency technology cuts the leaky package problem down to less than one per cent of those processed using MAP, White said.

Current heat-sealing methods for plastic tray packaging uses a polyethylene laminate as a glue to make the seal, typically at between 150-160 Celsius. Stanelco's Greenseal method does away with the laminate and welds the two sides of the package together at 50 Celsius using radio frequencies.

The method results in a 20 per cent reduction in the cost of packaging material and a 75 per cent reduction in the cost of energy used in the process, White said.

"With the other heat sealing method the two surfaces remain as two,"​ he said. "Using our method the two surfaces become melded as one surface resulting in a tighter seal."

Since there is no glue used in the process, the mono plastic package can now be easily recycled, he said. The Greenseal method can also be used on tinfoil packaging but needs a polyethylene laminate to make the seal.

Under its agreement with ASDA, Stanelco will retrofit 100 heat-sealing machines used by the chain's suppliers of meat, vegetables and other perishables. In the US, Stanelco has hired Premier Technology to retrofit heat-sealing machines for customers.

Stanelco will charge retailers about $55,000 (€55,000) per machine a year for use of the technology. There are about 50,000 sealing machines in the UK, North America and Europe currently using the MAP method.

The company hopes to get its technology on about half of those machines over the next three years, White said. The company will target the UK and North American markets before moving into Europe. "MAP is a growth market in the supermarket category,"​ he said.

Stanelco​, a listed UK company, is headquartered in Southampton, England. It was founded in 1953 and became a manufacturer of optical fibre technology, induction heating and dielectric welding equipment. The company has since exited the business and last year began developing its radio frequency technology for use in the packaging market.

The company has also developed a biodegradable air cushion packaging product called FrogPack, designed for retailers who ship fragile goods.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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