Having installed one in November 2021, we have had great success in securing new business and this has driven the need to install a 2nd line. This brings our fleet of equipment up to 12 machines and gives us capacity to continue the growth that we have seen over recent years.
The use of plastics is extremely beneficial to packaging for food, the materials provide increased shelf life, protection and an efficient way of handling product on a packing line.
The Blue Planet documentary has focussed governments, retailers and consumers alike on the damage caused by the amount of plastic waste in our oceans.
It is our belief that it is the management of the plastic waste that needs addressing.
We already use rPET material in our packaging and this material contains a minimum of 60% recycled material obtained from post- consumer waste and from our own internal waste.
It should be noted that all packaging supplied by Dragon Packaging can be recycled if managed correctly by the recycling facilities.
There has been much spoken about the recyclers’ inability to manage black packaging due to these items not being read by the scanners, Dragon Packaging is currently working with one of our suppliers to provide packaging that is manufactured using a material with a black pigment in its ‘A’ layer that can be read by scanners and trials will be completed by the end of July 2018.
It should be noted that black rPET may use post-consumer bottle waste that is too heavily tinted to be used in the manufacture of clear sheet material and any move away from black packaging risks condemning many thousand of tonnes of this tinted material to landfill, it is surprising that some of the retailers are considering using grey of bronze coloured packaging as an alternative to black but what will become of this packaging once it is delivered to the recyclers? – most likely it will end up in landfill, it could have been turned into a black material.
ALTERNATIVES TO PLASTIC PACKAGING
Some retailers have favoured a move to board packaging as an alternative to plastic packaging, however, in most instances a board tray is not effective as it will absorb moisture, fats and oils from the food content; to combat this board trays with a plastic laminated liner are being used creating a pack that is neither recyclable nor compostable.
BIO-COMPOSTIBLE AND BIO-DEGRADABLE PACKAGING
Dragon Packaging is currently an industrial partner working to develop an improved HDT ( Heat Deflection Temperature ) bio-plastic sheet for use in the manufacture of coffee cup lids and lining material for coffee cups as well as trays suitable for use in microwaves. This project is funded by Innovate UK and we are currently in Q3 of a Q8 project.
The base material used in this project is PLA (Polylactic Acid), this is a brittle material and not ideally suited for thermoforming plastic food packaging and to this end we have developed a blend of material using organic fillers and additives that allows the material to meet the requirements of a a compostable material whilst having good impact strength and good formability. We are carrying out a commercial trial of this blend within the next three weeks and samples will be available shortly after.
PROS AND CONS OF BIOPACKAGING
If managed correctly and sent to commercial aerobic composting facilities, bio-polymer based packaging can become a valuable part of the compost produced.
Sheet materials made from biopolymers are expensive and, whilst increased uptake will bring the costs down, we are a long way off from seeing the costs coming close to those of rPET.
All natural products are biodegradable but in order for them to biodegrade they need to be in an environment where the microorganisms can thrive in order to digest the biopolymer – if biopolymer based materials are simply put into landfill, they can remain there for decades without biodegrading since landfill sites do not have a ready supply of oxygen and moisture which are necessary for these microorganisms to grow. In a recent study in USA, samples were taken from a landfill site at various depths and a hot dog was found to be totally in tact after a number of years also some corn on the cob showing no sign of degradation and a newspaper from 1952 which could still be opened and read.
Bio-compostable packaging will bio-compost in a commercial aerobic composter but very few councils have the infrastructure to process this packaging at the present time – so this packaging has nowhere to go and, indeed, risks contaminating the existing packaging that is currently being successfully recycled, it would be necessary for recyclers to install NIR spectroscopy separators to identify a single new material.
Consideration should be given to whether it is better to efficiently manage the recycling of existing non bio-based packaging before we rush into using bio-compostable packaging.
Dragon Packaging is not currently evaluating PHA or PHB biopolymers as these are hugely expensive and global production volumes are relatively low.
The use of rPET/PE trays creates a significant problem for recyclers, the material has no commercial value and will inevitably end up in landfill. Dragon Packaging are trialling a material that contains a PET copolymer in the A layer which we believe will allow users to apply the lidding film to this A layer and the tray can then be fully recycled, the production trials are scheduled for the end of August.
PLEASE WATCH OUT IN OUR NEWS SECTION FOR FURTHER UPDATES
Dragon Packaging Limited is pleased to announce that the company is working in conjunction with Bangor University and Wells Plastics Limited on a project funded by Innovate UK, a government funding body.
The project ref is HDT BIOPOL and its aim is to increase the heat deflection temperature (HDT) of specific bio-compostable plastics.
Dragon are pleased to be working alongside John Flaherty of Ecovid, who is acting as a technical consultant. It is hoped that, once developed , the material will be suitable for the production of coffee cup lids and coffee cup liners as well as being used in the manufacture of microwaveable trays.
The project has just entered its Q2 development and has a further 7 quarters to go.
Dragon invest £600,000 in two new GN3625 machines and ancillary plant.
Having won new business for the ‘in store’ bakery sector, Dragon needed to broaden its machine base to manufacture large hinged containers.
Due to the high volume required, Dragon selected the larger GN machines to achieve an increase in output by 30%.
Steve Cunningham says ’these machines allow us to increase output on the new packs but, in addition, they are capable of running any existing tooling from the smaller GN machines, providing us with flexible production planning’.
The Wrexham based company with offices in Surrey is a leading supplier to the bakery and confectionery market and has taken on seven new staff with plans to hire five more over the coming months to fulfil client demand.
The contracts will increase turnover by £500,000 and has allowed the company to expand into the fresh produce and fish sectors. To support growth further, the manufacturer has increased its invoice finance facility to £800,000, helping it to bridge the gap when waiting on payment from clients.
To increase production output, the business has invested in two new thermoforming machines costing £189,000 each through a hire purchase facility from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance. The packaging produced is made from a material which has a minimum of 50 per cent recycled content.
Jamie Cunningham, managing director of Dragon Packaging, said: “Over the past 10 years the firm has increased its turnover from £350,000 to £4 million and we continue to go from strength to strength. Gaining new contract wins has been great as we can expand the business while offering local jobs to local people.
“An invoice finance facility allows us to hold stock for customers while waiting on payment and the hire purchase facility has enabled us to access the latest advanced technology and increase production output in line with our turnover. We plan to continue to grow and gain even more contracts in the future.”
Morne Jacobs, client manager at Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, said: “Dragon Packaging was established in 2002 and since then the firm has expanded and serves many well-known brands in the UK. It is a testament to Jamie, his partners Gary Leech and Steve Cunningham and the team’s hard work that their client portfolio continues to grow and thrive.
“There are many financial options available for a growing manufacturer. Invoice finance can offer flexibility within a company’s cashflow. At Lloyds, we are committed to supporting manufacturers and it is great that we have been able to provide a product that works for Jamie and Dragon Packaging.”
Anita Woodward, HP Sales & Services Executive at Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, said: “Hire purchase facilities can give manufacturers a chance to acquire the latest technology without impacting on cashflow and allow firms to grow with client demand. I wish Dragon Packaging the best for the future.”