Mr. Lassek (MD, Actega DS), looking back on recent years, how would you describe them? “They were very demanding years for us all. Back then, we offered what the market demanded, i.e. PVC-free alternatives. There was no question about the fact that PVC-free materials are better than materials containing PVC. The changeover involved investments on the part of the manufacturers of seals which were not only focused on health (plasticizers) and environmental (PVC) aspects – they were also obliged to guarantee the function of such seals. We have invested a lot in research and development and are continuing to do so. Developments on the market, particularly over the past three to five years, have shown that we have succeeded in gaining our customers’ confidence. Growth last year was >30%. This is also reflected in the processing plants available on the market which are capable of covering a capacity of almost 5 billion seals until the end of 2021.”
Ms. Ochalek (Product Manager, PROVALIN®), what do you think are the reasons for changing over to PVC-free materials? “Consumer demands have changed a lot. People are living more healthily and more consciously. When the changeover to PROVALIN® began, the main focal point was the topic of migration. There was a general consensus that the plasticizers contained in PVC can migrate into fatty or greasy foods and be harmful to health. That alone was reason enough for the changeover. This was also compounded by the aspects of sustainability and environmental friendliness which are even more topical today than migration. People are now more responsible when it comes to health and the environment. When better alternatives are available, they like to avail of them.”
Pano Verschluss GmbH already changed its production of Twist-Off® seals (TO) to become entirely PVC-free as early as 2018. Mr. Eberhardt (owner of Pano), what motivated you to take this brave step? “Full conversion to PVC-free with PROVALIN® enabled us to decommission all gas-powered kilns required for drying the liquid PVC compounds with a very high expenditure of energy. The sustainability performance speaks for itself: 70% energy savings mean 40% less CO2 during the manufacture of seals.”
Was that not 100%? “In our case, we can save 100% CO2 by using green electricity during the manufacture of our seals. But the basis is sustainable savings of 70% energy.”
Your trademark is a blue ring. “Yes, that’s true. We can say that a blue ring always marks sustainability and the lid is free of harmful plasticizers. The blue PROVALIN® BLUESEAL® enables consumers to swiftly, unambiguously, and easily detect products which are PVC-free.”
The market for PVC-free seals has developed rapidly in recent years. Mr. Stock (MD, Pano), how do you regard further market developments? “More than 35% of TO seals in Germany are already PVC-free today. For the future, we envisage a market share of 60-70% for PVC-free seals. In any case, seal manufacturers have already developed the requisite capacities for this.”
Mr. Reichold (MD, Feinkost Dittmann), where the original focus was on oily contents, PVC-free seals can meanwhile be found in practically all areas of food. Do you think there are any restrictions to using PVC-free seals? “No, there are none at all. We have processed millions of PVC-free seals in recent years. It goes without saying that new beginnings are marked by gaining experience but we cannot report of any restrictions.”
Would you have thought that the percentage of PVC-free seals would grow so strongly and would already account for the lion’s share in your company today? “We were convinced right from the start that the topic of migration could be comprehensively solved by PROVALIN®. What's more, the issue of sustainability was already on the agenda at Feinkost Dittmann back then and it was simply a good fit for us. Meanwhile, it is the requirements on sustainability by the food retail trade that are driving the trend to become PVC-free. As a sustainable company, we can only welcome this trend.”
The PVC-free sealing compound is not only available for Twist-Off® seals but also for so-called P/T seals (Press-on Twist-Off®). Ms. Ochalek, why were they developed and how long have they been on the market for? “Infants and small children require special protection and this also applies when it comes to food. Parents are extremely sensitive in this regard and take care to ensure that their little ones only receive the best. Therefore, it is practically a no-brainer to offer PVC-free alternatives in this area. Which we have been doing since 2016. The corresponding compound going by the name of ACTGreen® PROVALIN® has been available since 2020 and this compound is green to make it easier to identify.”
Sustainability has become a key issue, including when it comes to packaging.
Actega DS, Pano, and Feinkost Dittmann engaged with this topic at an early stage.