Aluminium Foil and Resource Efficiency

From foil wrappers and household foil to semi-rigid foil containers and laminated foil pouches, aluminium foil applications offer a versatile range of packaging solutions to meet today’s sustainability challenges.

The physical properties of aluminium foil, such as the absolute barrier effect, lead to more protection and longer shelf-lives for the product contents, as well as better preservation of their nutritional and health benefits. The net result: less food waste or greater Resource Efficiency.

Also, less use of resources results in a reduction in the overall environmental impact and improved profitability. In summary: Better packaging ultimately saves resources or MORE IS LESS.

This list of some of the unique characteristics of aluminium foil expands to give examples of how these properties provide resource (and energy) efficient solutions.

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Barrier
 

Foil acts as an absolute barrier to light, gases and moisture providing almost perfect preservation of aroma, flavour and other product characteristics hereby protecting product quality. It has a highly efficient barrier function to weight ratio eg: for 1 litre of fruit juice packed in a beverage carton, only 1.5 grams of aluminium is sufficient to more than double the ambient shelf-life.

Increases resource efficiency by: Extending the useful life of products for many months – even years – at room temperature. This prevents product spoilage, reduces food waste and provides energy savings as products can be preserved for long periods without the need for refrigeration.

 
Health and Safety
 

Aluminium foil is sterile! Thanks to the high-temperature annealing, it does not harbour or promote bacteria. This makes it safe for use with foodstuffs and an ideal protection against possible contamination. The latter is vital for food, medical and pharmaceutical products.

Increases resource efficiency by: Food lasts longer as well as retaining nutritional quality. Less is likely to be wasted.

 
Product to Pack Ratio
 

Whilst dependent on pack size, typical product to pack ratio’s for rigid packaging range from 3:1 (metal tin) to 5:1 (plastic pot) whilst the same quantity of product packed in a flexible pack/pouch with alufoil can have a product to pack ratio of 29:1.

Increases resource efficiency by: A high product to pack ratio means less packaging is needed to pack the same quantity of product. This saves packaging materials and reduces the need to recycle/recover these materials end of life.

 
Portion-ability
 

Foils excellent ability to be used alone or to be combined with other materials (paper and/or plastic) provides flexibility to easily pack the product (food) into appropriate and convenient portions.

Increases resource efficiency by: Providing food in appropriate quantities prevents both over preparation and over consumption which contribute to food wastage. Portioning also extends the shelf-life of the unprepared food by keeping it packaged and protected.

 
Carbon Footprint
 

Although aluminium metal has a relatively high intrinsic carbon footprint on a per kilogram basis, it is extremely weight effective. Very little aluminium is required to effectively pack and protect the product e.g. 1.5g of alufoil per 1 litre beverage carton. Also, foil’s ability to be readily combined with other materials normally results in a lower overall carbon footprint than other comparable rigid packaging solutions.

Increases resource efficiency by: Minimising the amount of packaging needed to protect the product by optimally (and efficiently) combining the properties of alufoil with those of other packaging materials to extend shelf life and prevent (food) waste.

 
Material and space efficiency
 

Aluminium foil can efficiently be laminated with other materials to combine specific properties of several flexible packaging substrates in a complementary way for an improved overall performance and a resource efficient packaging solution. Space efficiency in storage and display enables further cost savings and reduces the cost of disposal for recycling/recovery at the end of life.

Increases resource efficiency by: Thin light laminates, rather than bulky mono material packaging, saves valuable (packing) materials, while the lower weight of the packed product means a more efficient supply chain.

 
Mechanical Properties
 

Uniquely light yet strong, foil’s ‘deadfold’ characteristics allows it to wrap products tightly and without any glue or other sealing systems.

Increases resource efficiency by: Mechanical properties like deadfold-ability allow for preservation during storage & use, minimising the need for adhesives. Easy reclose-ability, via the deadfold, helps to prevent food waste through portioning, portability and preserving leftovers.

 
Thermal conductivity
 

Aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat and is able to withstand extreme temperatures.  Alufoil is ideal for use in autoclaving, heat-sealing and other thermal processes (eg retort).  It is also used in heat exchangers in a wide range of applications.

Increases resource efficiency by: Excellent thermal conductivity minimises the processing, chilling and re-heating times saving energy and protecting product quality. It also helps protect product quality by minimising sealing times and flattening extreme temperature gradients within the product.

 
Electrical conductivity
 

Excellent electrical conductivity enables high-precision, contact-free sealing, thus widening the application range for efficient and fast filling technologies.

Increases resource efficiency by: Electrical conductivity facilitates induction and ultrasonic sealing of packaging, saving materials and energy by minimising the seal area and time.

 
Reflectivity
 

Aluminium foil reflects up to 98% of light and infrared heat.

Increases resource efficiency by: Good heat reflectivity saves energy during the cooling or heating of in pack prepared foods.

 
Multi-mode cooking
 

The unique combination of thermal, electrical heat transfer allows food to be cooked or re-heated by convection or microwave oven and/or in ‘bain marie’ systems.

Increases resource efficiency by: This flexibility in heating/cooking helps save time and energy during preparation.