We can supply our flowrappers and customer upgrades fully configured for
alternatives to plastic - ready to go, hassle free. So you could be making the most of new opportunities instead of worrying about the future. And you could be helping reduce our impact on the world. And all at a lower cost than your competitors.
Recyclable, Biodegradable, Compostable ?
What's the difference? In truth it's a very complex subject that's driven by marketing, social perception, global politics and cost as much as it is by science. Here's a brief straight forward summary:
film theoretically includes most plastics but the practical reality can be very different. It requires an extensive collection, sorting and processing infrastructure. It's heavily compromised by multi-material laminates and barrier layers which are often used to extend shelf life. And there is a limit to the number of times it can be recyled. PE (Polyethylene) is often considered over OPP (Polypropylene) but there's no real science behind this and PE can be very difficult to use on a flowrapper. There are currently no globally recognised standards covering recylable films.
film is plastic with special additives designed to make it break down under certain microbiological conditions. The term itself is quite vague though, and it doesn't define how long it takes or what it actually breaks down into. Critically, it's still made from the same core materials as petroleum based film and can simply disintegrate into equally damaging microplastic particles.
films are produced from naturally occuring materials and decompose fully, most providing regenarative nutriants without any toxic residue. Some require a controlled industrial process while others are certified as home-compostable and both must meet specific EN certification standards. However, mixing compostable film with recylable currently compromises both, although work is underway to create compostable solutions that can also be recycled.
Simply throwing new technology films at existing horizontal flowrappers seldom works. It takes expertise and knowledge to build and suitably prepare equipment for these new environmentally friendly materials. Some of the world's leading film manufacturers work closely with us, testing their products on our wide range of makes and models. We can test any new film you are thinking of using and work with you on preparing your own upgraded or remanufactured flowrapper.
Manufacturing any new machinery uses energy, generates greenhouse gases and uses valuable natural resources way beyond what most people imagine. Making a new flowrapper can actually create more environmental damage than a lifetime of use.
So a used machine really does help save the planet. But we don't simply rebuild old machines - we remanufacture 'better than new' flow wrappers using parts from old ones. The frame, body and covers don't wear out. Worn bearings are easily replaced with new ones. And the internals are replaced by a class-leading latest generation efficient multi-motor system.
So you get a 'better than new' machine without the price tag or environmental damage of a new one.
Tray-Less Unstable & Difficult Products
With some products, removing the tray and directly handling difficult unstable products can be a challenge. However, we have a wealth of engineering and practical experience backed by highly qualified academic specialists who can help you achieve high speed tray-less packing.
In some cases card can replace the plastic tray and we can supply automatic card feeders and folders. We can add self powered top brush and paddle systems, modify or build new infeeds to carry spherical, difficult or multi-pack products. We can design bespoke specialist feeding systems. Take a look at the video to see some examples of how we can stretch the capabilities of standard flowrappers.
Some applications require the use of more specialist box motion, long dwell and inverted machines which can be very expensive, so the savings we offer are even more significant.
One of our remanufactured machines, or upgrading your own, allows you to meet the increasingly 'green' demands of your customers as well as meet inevitable future legislation.
As momentum builds, international government legislation will undoubtedly become increasingly demanding. The UK's levy on plastic shopping bags and the ban by the Chinese government on imports of plastic waste are just the start. We might soon see prominent "NOT RECYCLABLE" as mandatory marking on films and taxes or levies designed to penalise producers using plastic or non-recyable films or excessive packaging. Not to mention the pollution and environmental damage caused by scrapping your old machine. As someone who has to wrap, you are bound to be concerned. So talk to us - we can help with these new challenges and still keep your budget under control.
The environmental impact of throwing away a flow wrapper and replacing it with a new one is significant. Manufacturing any substantial machine is costly both in terms of the commercial cost to your business and to the planet - from mining it's raw materials to delivering the finished item has an environmental impact beyond what most of us would imagine. Some basic research will astound you - it did us!
If you already have a flow-wrapper that's perhaps seen better days it makes excellent sense to recycle it. If you are in need of a 'new' flow-wrapper we can supply you with a 'better than new' refurbished and upgraded alternative from our huge stock of machines. You are not only doing your bit towards saving the planet and saving yourself a lot of money but are getting a better machine than a new one. This is because in the last decade or so there has been a 'race to the bottom' not only in terms of price but also quality. Most of the main players now offer a cheap entry level flow-wrapper along side their better and more rugged higher end machines. These entry level machines are far from the robust with components and, in some cases, entire machines being made in China with the terrible quality these Chinese low volume machines are known for. Although we try not to work on Chinese machines, and never sell them, we have had several brand new Chinese machines in our workshop requiring significant work to bring them up to European standards. In every case the quality of every aspect of the Chinese machines, from the raw materials, the parts machining, the assembly, the electrics and software, has been abysmal. So taking the bones of an older heavy duty rugged European machine (they don't make them like they used to!) and turning into a latest generation efficient and reliable version with all the latest bell and whistles, and at a price less than a cheap entry level new one, makes perfect sense.
The OPP film that's been used for several decades now is really a by-product, almost a waste product, of the oil refining process and is easily and cheaply produced. Our continued reliance on oil and the compatability of OPP with existing machinery will make OPP films the lowest cost solution for the foreseeable future. Alternative biodegradable, recyclable and compostable films are now available and the pressure to change over to these is mounting. However it's a much more complex subject than popular opinion would have us believe! Biodegradable and industrially compostable films require the addition of some particularly unfriendly chemicals and still end up as micro-plastic particles. Recyclable requires big industrial power hungry separation and processing plants. Cellulose based compostable is made from naturally occuring materials and dissolves naturally and harmlessly back into the earth - great, but it's complex and expensive to produce. Perhaps the best alternative in terms of the environment is Natureflex - a truly home compostable film manufactured from wood pulp (ie. trees). It is manufactured by Futamura who not only have a major research and development facility in the UK but also work with us on testing new materials. Such cooperation works well as they get access to many different makes and models of flow-wrappers in one place as well as expert set-up and support from us. We, of course, get access to the latest films and the opportunity to build up expertise and experience of the different films. However the complex manufacturing process required to produce cellulose films makes them relatively expensive. This will, at least for the foreseeable future, remain the case and is something we must accept. On the plus side the latest generation film registration system and features such as 'No-Product-No-Bag', which are an inherent part of our flow-wrapper upgrade and our 'better than new' machines, considerably reduces film wastage.
The other area of growing environmental concern is excessive packaging. In terms of flow-wrappers a significant contribution to solving this problem is the reduction in use of plastic or card trays which are wrapped with the product. The problem is that packing a tray, regardless of what's in it, is easy. A standard rotary flow-wrapper is fast and versatile and can pack trays of all different shapes and sizes very quickly and efficiently - usually faster than humans can load the machine! But a collection of, say, six loose tomatoes is much more difficult as they will roll around uncontrollably as they pass through the machine. If you approached one of the suppliers of new machines they will offer you either a high end flow-wrapper fitted with several special and complex adaptions or an inverted film machine, both of which have an equally high-end price tag. Rather than buy an expensive new machine we can add the required extra features to many existing flow-wrappers as part of our upgrade service. Take a look at the Case Studies page to see what's possible.
Of course some products which are fine in a tray are even more difficult when packed loose. Sausages for instance can not be pushed along a static deck with static side guides in the way that a standard flow-wrapper does. In this case you need an inverted film flow-wrapper which carries the product on moving conveyors all the way through the machine. Such machines are also usually fitted with long dwell 'D' cam or box motion sealing jaws. These machines are large and relatively complex and are very expensive, new ones can exceed one hundred thousand pounds. They also only account for perhaps five percent of flowrapper sales so are relatively rare on the second hand market. However, with such a large number of flow-wrappers always in stock we are very likely to have a suitable machine available for refurbishment and upgrade at a fraction of the price of new.