May 19, 2022 - Flexible Packaging

Why the Package Industry Should Stop Using Clamshells

Plastic clamshell packaging, or clamshells, have long been an industry standard for packaging food produce. This is because the plastic materials make clamshell processing affordable to manufacture and sell while their durability helps protect packaging contents. Further, clamshell transparency allows consumers to clearly see the food inside the package before they buy it, which increases purchase likelihood.  

However, due to rising consumer demands and governmental pressures to reduce environmental impact, brand owners are increasingly looking to sell their products in sustainable packaging. These pressures create challenges for those involved in clamshell manufacturing, such as converters and co-packers alike, given that clamshells pose certain limitations to fully meeting brand owner sustainability demands. Therefore, the package industry must find a sustainable alternative to clamshells while meeting price point, durability and product visibility needs. Fortunately, PET trays with the right heat seal coatings can benefit the entire value chain, including converters, co-packers and brand owners, by overcoming clamshell limitations and providing further advantages. 

Clamshell Sustainability Limitations  

While there have been recent changes to clamshells that improve recyclability levels and make it easier for consumers to properly dispose of them at the end of the packaging’s life, there are still inherent limitations with the packaging that render it impossible to meet sustainability needs. These include: 

High plastic material volume in clamshell designs: One aspect of manufacturing sustainable packaging includes reducing material usage and overall waste, which clamshells do not address. Additionally, these high material quantities increase size and weight to the overall design, which impacts shipping as well as storage efficiencies and ultimately contributes toward increased carbon footprints. 

Branding limitations: Clamshells cannot be printed on directly; instead, a separate label must be applied if the brand owner desires branding. This means a clamshell will require additional material, which contributes to more waste. Further, the added production process increases energy usage and hinders the plant’s ability to reduce carbon footprint.  

How PET Trays with Heat Seal Coatings Address Clamshell Sustainability Limitations 

Like clamshells, PET trays with the right heat seal coatings are recyclable. However, they provide additional sustainable and processing benefits, such as: 

Weight and material volume reduction: By utilizing a PET tray flexible film lidding, which is adhered with a heat seal coating, the package’s overall weight is 30% less compared to clamshells This weight reduction helps improve fuel efficiency during transportation and lower carbon emissions compared to shipping clamshells. Further, storing the tray material can take up less space in a facility since it’s half the volume of an entire clamshell. More trays can be stored in the same space compared to clamshells. 

Branding capabilities: Unlike a clamshell, a lidding film enables brand owners to print logos, designs and such directly on the opposite side of the package. No additional label materials nor processes are needed. This helps reduce material waste by eliminating a label as well as its release liner and simplifies recyclability. Further, it can reduce extra production steps and help decrease facility energy usage.  

Additional Benefits of PET Trays with the Right Heat Seal Coatings: 

  • Improved product freshness: Like clamshells, PET trays with the right heat seal coatings are transparent, which helps increase consumer purchase likelihood. However, unlike clamshells, they have the capability to alter water droplets and reduce fog formation. By reducing fog formation, there is less moisture inside the packaging, which can extend product viability. While clamshells are transparent, which helps with visibility, they don’t offer moisture protection and cannot aid in product freshness.  
  • Increased design options: Additionally, PET trays with the right coatings can offer one-time peel or reseal capabilities, allowing increased product designs and the ability to address consumer needs for single-use packaging or packaging that can be repeatedly opened and closed without requiring secondary packaging, further reducing waste. 
  • Reduced SKU volume: For certain applications, PET trays with the right heat seal coatings also enable the ability to use one product on multiple tray options to achieve both seal and anti-fog capabilities. This reduces SKU volumes as well as overall costs while streamlining processes. Clamshells, however, require a specific package option every time the shape is altered for a product.  

Because PET trays with right heat seal coatings help meet sustainability goals, clamshells should become part of the past in package manufacturing. PET trays with the right heat seal coatings address clamshell limitations while offering additional benefits to improve food freshness and simplify SKUs. These offerings can ease processes and improve environmental footprints for everyone involved in completing the final product. 

Why PET Trays Should Use Bostik’s Heat Seal Coatings 

Bostik offers sustainable packaging options with heat seal coatings for PET trays alongside our expertise to ensure you’re getting the most benefits out of your packaging. For example, some of our heat seal coatings offer both transparency and bonding in one product. Further, they can easily run on existing equipment. This allows converters, co-packers and brand owners to get the maximum capabilities in one product without requiring additional investment or changing processes. 

Ready to make the switch from clamshells? Contact a Bostik representative today!  

Want a solution other than clamshells and need a coating for a tray besides PET? We also supply coating options that are useful for a range of lidding trays. Additionally, they work well on paper and corrugate materials, increasing design options and workability. 

Other helpful information on heat seal coatings:  

3 Reasons Why Bostik’s Anti-Fog Heat Seal Coatings are the Smart Choice for Clear Packaging 

On-Demand Education Series: Heat Seal Solutions with Bostik Vitels®  

Access Our On-Demand Webinar: CoPET Heat Seal Coatings for Sustainable Package Design 

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