Rethinking reclosure in light of sustainable packaging

Rethinking reclosure in light of sustainable packaging

As packaging continues to develop to keep up with consumers’ interest in sustainability--think home compostable cling wraps, biodegradable packaging and more--one area that could be overlooked but plays a key role in packaging development is reclosure.

“A large portion of produce is packed in a clamshell. Reclosure has been a feature of produce items for many years but the market is evolving to find more sustainable options without sacrificing functionality, convenience, operations and marketing benefits,” says Laetitia Kasl, senior product manager of reclosure at Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials based in Mentor, OH.

In turn, Kasl says to reach their sustainability goals, many brands look to reduce plastic content in their packaging which impacts reclosure. “One key development we are witnessing is an increased adoption of pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) solutions with film, directly applied to trays to replace hard plastic lids. This structure can result in a material reduction of up to 30 percent,” says Kasl, who notes that Avery Dennison has developed a Heat Seal Portfolio reclosure solution which works with high-performance adhesives and films on numerous applications.

And while it’s not top of mind when it comes to the concept of packaging necessarily, good reclosure is important to consumers. While they may not necessarily notice good reclosures, they certainly pay attention when reclosures aren’t working. “Consumers value the convenience of being able to open and reseal a package to consume the content over several times until it’s fully consumed. Since produce is often purchased to be used over several days, a reseal design is necessary,” says Kasl.

Since produce is often purchased to be used over several days, a reseal design is necessary, says Kasl.

Reclosure options In fact there are several types of reclosure packaging choices available in produce. “When a product doesn’t need strong physical protection or a specific environment, reclosure can be achieved with carton boxes or bags,” says Kasl. “However, for produce needing physical protection or a specific environment, a heat seal solution with a tray has a sustainable advantage versus clamshells.”

A properly functioning sealing option also protects product of course before it even makes it to a consumer’s home. “Packaging design should support efficient stocking for transportation and storage,” says Kasl. “It needs to protect contents from physical and environmental damage and for ease of transportation. For certain products such as leafy greens, the packaging needs to be able to maintain a specific environment to optimize shelf life and deliver the targeted taste, texture and visual appeal.”

Reseals that work are all part of the complete picture of what makes a good package that consumers are happy with which also includes the proper display of graphics and messages to guide them in their selection process and to be able to see the contents inside.