Aluminium / PLA / VMPET: Which Is Better As A Coffee Bag Liner?

When it comes to sustainable coffee packaging, there is always one concern. It is freshness.

Many roasters believe that sustainable materials do not provide good barrier properties. Unless an additional layer is added. Liner layers can be added to materials that offer limited protection. These include kraft paper and rice paper.

The liner helps to enhance the benefits of sustainable materials. It creates an additional barrier to external factors that affect the quality of the coffee. Read on. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of different lining materials. So that you can choose the most suitable one for your packaging.

Why Do Coffee Bags Need Liners?

Since the creation of coffee, freshness has been a key factor in quality coffee. Roasters must choose quality packaging. To maintain the freshness of the coffee for a long time.

Water, sunlight, air and other unfavourable elements are the killers of coffee. If coffee is exposed to unfavourable elements for a long time it will deteriorate quickly. It loses its aroma and develops an unpleasant flavour.

For this reason, most roasters choose flexible multi-layer packaging to extend the shelf life of their coffees. Multi-layer packaging provides a sufficient barrier to keep out external elements.

Common Materials Used As Liners

As far as interiors are concerned, the most popular choices are aluminium foil, VMPET and polylactic acid (PLA).

Aluminium foil is one of the most abundant raw materials on the planet and VMPET is a vacuum-metallised film. PLA is a bioplastic made from renewable resources.

All three materials are very effective as liners for sustainable packaging materials. However, each material has its advantages and disadvantages.

Aluminium Lining

The Benefits

Aluminium is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust after oxygen and silicon. It is therefore less expensive to collect. And it is infinitely recyclable. This makes it a popular material for lining coffee bags.

The barrier properties of aluminium foil are the best available. It is harmless to humans and food. It is also water-resistant, and grease-proof and reflects light, heat and UV light. This gives it the advantage of protecting the quality of roasted coffee.

And aluminium foil is not electrically charged. It can be painted and printed. This meets the requirements of modern packaging.

Disadvantages

Difficult to recycle

Although aluminium foils have been produced in large quantities as a coffee packaging material for decades. But they are not without their drawbacks.

One important issue is recyclability. Before it can be melted down and reused, it must be separated from the other layers. For this reason, used coffee bags must be sent to a special recycling facility. And equipped to separate the material.

But customers are not always aware of these special requirements. This leads to foil-lined coffee bags being disposed of incorrectly.

They end up in landfills. The aluminium packaging is decomposed and emits methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.

Problems caused by the thickness of aluminium foil

As a rule, the thinner and more flexible the foil is. This means that it is more prone to tiny tears and pinholes. Then easier it is for oxygen, light, moisture or heat to penetrate the packaging. Coffee can quickly lose quality and become stale.

PLA lining

The Benefits

PLA is polylactic acid. It is a non-toxic bioplastic. It is made by fermenting carbohydrates from renewable sources such as corn, corn starch and sugar cane. Very little carbon emissions are produced in the manufacture of PLA. Environmentally conscious companies favour it.

PLA has similar properties to petroleum-based plastics. But PLA is a completely bio-sourced material. So when placed in a commercial composting environment. It can easily decompose in as little as 90 days. Conventional plastics do take at least 500 years.

According to research, PLA-lined bags can protect the contents from moisture and oxygen for up to 12 months, making them ideal for coffee that needs to be transported or stored for long periods.

PLA is widely used as a laminate for coffee packaging materials such as kraft paper and rice paper. Because of its excellent properties, PLA has high tensile strength (7,000 psi). It can withstand temperatures of up to 420°F. and has good moisture resistance.

Disadvantages

Although PLA is compostable, it must degrade in a controlled environment at specific temperatures and in the presence of certain microorganisms. Otherwise, it will not fully degrade. And makes the soil ultimately highly acidic.

And PLA is often treated together with conventional plastics. This is because the process of separating the two is laborious and expensive. Many bakers are wary of PLA. If you use it as a liner, you must ensure that there are recycling facilities.

VMPET

The Benefits

VMPET is a PET film coated with an aluminium foil layer. This results in metallised PET, which provides the appearance of aluminium foil. It is approximately 1/175th of the thickness of aluminium normally used on aluminium-lined packaging. The manufacturing process for VMPET starts with the base material polyethene terephthalate (also known as PET).

It is transparent and lightweight plastic. It has excellent mechanical strength. But it is superior to ordinary PET films. This is because it has enhanced barrier properties. Especially for products that need to be kept fresh.

VMPET can be moulded into any shape. It is opaque. Colours can be reproduced. This will help to ensure the consistency of your packaging and appeal to the consumer.

VMPET is the most common coffee barrier material. This is because it is easy to seal, puncture resistant and resistant to high temperatures. The high level of barrier helps to maintain the flavour and freshness of the coffee.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantages of VMPET packaging are the same as those for aluminium bags. They are not widely recycled. Most of them end up in landfills.

The different types of material usually melt at different temperatures and VMPET contains a layer of aluminium powder rather than actual aluminium foil. Therefore it is not usually removed during the recycling process. Instead, it is melted and mixed with the PET used to make plastic bottles.

This can cause problems with recycling equipment that has a built-in metal detector. To prevent damage, these machines may reject the entire batch of material even if they detect the smallest amount of metal.

You should ensure that suitable recycling facilities are available. Otherwise separating the layers of VMPET before processing may cause significant costs and inconvenience to your business.

Conclusion

The benefits of sustainable packaging materials are clear. They can reduce carbon emissions and contribute to a circular economy.

xiaoyupack can help you choose a more sustainable coffee packaging option that suits your business needs. This includes packaging options that are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. As well as inks, glues and labels that are compostable and easy to remove for recycling. You can also choose compostable components.

Contact us today for a bespoke packaging solution.

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