The Bright Future of Flexible Packaging Film
A Q&A with Tim Weikert, president of General Films, a company that provides custom-designed packaging solutions to institutional and food service customers since 1947.
Q: What new products and/or developments are you currently offering and/or undergoing?
A: General Films has developed a sealant film featuring low-force, peel-opening technology that is seeing a lot of positive feedback and growth. This keeps bags and packaging from tearing when you open them. These coextruded films are available in 3-, 5- and 9 layers and are ideal for thin, source-reduced films and to prevent package “zippering” when peeled.
Various industries can benefit from this film, including easy peel lidding for fresh food and low-seal-force skin film for chemical barrier. These films are also customizable. Some customers require semi-permeable packaging with a healthy exchange of oxygen. Others require film that features high barrier to oxygen permeation. We can also customize the films to provide effective barriers to aroma, flavor and chemicals.
Q: Are you seeing any new trends in flexible packaging film?
A: With two-thirds of General Films’ business in food packaging, we are seeing acceleration toward product integrity and food safety. This has always been important, but the focus is increasing. There are more federal regulations for food safety, and packaging is considered an ingredient of the food. We do everything possible to ensure our customers are able to provide their customers - the general population - safe food every time.
For institutional food packaging, the film is pigmented a contrasting color from the product inside. By coloring films, it provides an added level of safety with visual inspection.
The demand for antimicrobial solutions is also increasing to ensure food safety. We can put additives in the film that reduce microbe counts on the film surface and within the contents.
|Designed by General Films for fresh poultry packaged on vertical form/fill/seal machines, BG/2M is a coextruded, nine-layer film with nylon barrier, providing excellent physical properties, ranging from the sealant to impact strength.|
Q: What are your customers requesting more of?
A: As with most industries and companies, our customers are still doing more with less. They look to us to develop creative ways to reduce the cost to their end customer while providing film and packaging solutions that meet safety requirements and changing trends and demands.
In addition, we have more customers looking to us for technical support and advice. Many companies aren’t able to have specialized individuals on their staff, but they still need to accomplish the same goals. We are providing some of this support as experts in the industry.
Recycled content has been talked about for a while and continues to have some appeal with customers. General Films embarked on a two-year project to help a long-time customer develop a closed-loop process for their film. They previously disposed of film trimmings waste from their converting process, which accounted for around 35 percent of their total film use. Today, the trimmings that had been waste are now sent back to General Films, where we turn it into pellets that are blended with virgin material to make new film. The cycle is completed as new film is then sold back to the customer.
Q: What advice would you like to give your current and/or potential customers?
A: At General Films we make it a priority to engage with our customers to understand their goals. It’s important that we account for the market realities that our customers face. Reaching mutually agreed upon goals such as cost reduction, inventory turns, packaging line productivity enhancements, source reduction and recycled content is a reality when you engage with your vendors, and can mean a competitive advantage to your business.