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  • Manisha Singh

Understanding Barriers in Flexible Packaging: A Deep Dive



In flexible packaging, the term "Barrier" refers to the capacity of a pouch to prevent the passage of materials which include gases, moisture, mild, and odors. This is important for keeping the high-quality and shelf life of the packaged product. But what should be the appropriate choice of layers and how will they impact the shelf life of the product? Let's explore.


What are the Common Types of Barriers in Flexible Packaging?


  • Oxygen Barrier: It prevents oxygen from entering the packaging, which is essential for preserving the freshness of packed food.

  • Moisture Barrier: It blocks moisture from coming into or exiting the packaging, essential for dry items and products sensitive to humidity (soggy).

  • Light Barrier: It protects the contents from light exposure, which can degrade certain products, like food and pharmaceuticals.

  • Odor Barrier: It prevents odors or aromas from escaping the bundle and additionally protects the contents from outside odors. Critical for packaging of Coffee, tea, cosmetics etc.


How Are These Barriers Achieved in Packaging?


Barriers are usually achieved by laminating multi-layers in the packaging structure. Here's a look at a few common structures and their comparison:

Layer Combination

Barrier

Cost

Strength

Approx OTR (cc/m²/day)

Approx WVTR (g/m²/day)

Industry Examples

PET/PE

Moderate

Low

Moderate-High

50-100

3-5

Snack packaging, bakery etc.

PET/Aluminum Foil/PE

Very High

High

Moderate-High

<0.1

<0.1

Pharmaceutical, coffee, high-end snacks, products requiring long shelf life.

PET/Nylon/PE

High

Moderate

High

10-30

5-10

Frozen foods, meat packaging, cheese

PET/AlOx/PE

High

High

Moderate

<1

1-3

Microwaveable meals, premium snacks

PET/EVOH/PE

Very High

High

Moderate

<1

<1

Fresh produce, dairy products, medical

BOPP/CPP

Moderate

Low

Moderate

100-200

10-20

Biscuits, confectionery, dry foods

BOPP/Metallized BOPP

High

Moderate

Moderate

<2

<2

Chips, snacks with longer shelf life


How Do You Choose the Right Barrier for Your Product?


In conclusion, following factors are to be considered for choosing the most optimal structure for your packaging:

  • Product Sensitivity: Consider the sensitivity of your product to oxygen, moisture, mild, and odors.

  • Shelf Life Requirements: Determine how lengthy the product desires to be preserved. Use of Aluminum foil layer can enhance the shelf life significantly.

  • Cost Considerations: Balancing the barrier needs and the packaging budget. Choosing the optimal barrier at the cost effective price.

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