Supplying the ever-growing global population with fresh foodstuffs only works with secure packaging. The problem at hand is the continuous growing resource consumption which has to be halted. The German Packaging Act increased the recycling targets for - among other things -plastic to 63% until the year 2022. The question now is what the packaging industry can do to replace plastic and realize this target.

Material symbiosis

GEA FoodTray material symbiosis

FoodTray is a packaging solution manufactured out of the resources paperboard and plastic film. Corrugated paperboard is the most widespread packaging material worldwide. These packages consist almost completely out of natural or recycled materials. Plastic film is of outstanding importance for modern food packaging.

The new German Packaging Act introduced on January 1st contains significantly higher recycling quotas for plastic packaging and will have wide-reaching consequences for the industry. Fortunately, FoodTray is here!” - Volker Sassmannshausen, Product Manager Thermoforming, GEA

Product appearance

GEA FoodTray package appearance

The printability of paperboard enables manufactures to describe their products which require explanation through texts and photos. The top film may also be utilized for this. Different printing technologies allow for differentiated product descriptions, also for smaller lot sizes. 

Separable disposal

GEA FoodTray separable disposal

The used corrugated cardboard box and plastic film are easy to separate and allow for separate disposal of material. Both materials are taken up by the appropriate disposal and recycling systems. Plastic content in conventional packaging can be vastly reduced when corrugated paperboard gets supplied to the recycling method.

Inline production process

GEA FoodTray process

Step 1: Denesting

Pre-manufactured corrugated cardboard boxes will be denested and automatically transferred into the forming station of the GEA PowerPak thermoformer by means of the denesting and loading unit. 

Step 2: Forming

Bottom flex film will be formed into the corrugated cardboard box and spot sealed to the upper area of the carton trays by means of heatable plugs. 

Step 3: Filling

Products will be loaded, either fully automatic or manually.

Step 4: Sealing

Packages will be evacuated, gassed and the top flex film sealed to the bottom film.

The system

GEA foodtray packaging example

The film is deep-drawn and directly attached to the inside of the box which is made from corrugated cardboard, followed by the custom MAP-Packaging operation. The result is an ecologically sustainable package with heights reaching from 20 to 60mm.

Advantages of the FoodTray

  • Reducing the plastic content in packaging
  • The corrugated cardboard box is exclusively made out of renewable resources and can be optimally re-used through recycling
  • Higher stability with less material use compared to full board
  • FoodTray allows for printing on the whole packaging and is able to show individual product information, especially for products requiring explanation
  • FoodTray is characterized by a consumer-friendly feel and appearance
  • Corrugated cardboard box and foil are easy to separate and recycle.

The system partners

Thanks to the collaboration between ROBA, GEA and SCHUR FLEXIBLES, FoodTray was created. Together they developed this ecological and sustainable innovation for food packaging. ROBA started with the idea to create a tray out of corrugated cardboard which fulfills the conditions of modern food packaging. Through further cooperation with specialists from the foil and machine building industries, this idea could be realized. FoodTray is a package that fulfills the criteria of haptics, security, sustainability, recyclability, and industrial manufacturing.

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