Researchers in Thailand find that single-serve PP-based retort cups for tuna packaging have smaller carbon footprint than pouches, metal cans

LOS ANGELES , September 19, 2011 () – Researchers in Thailand studying the carbon footprint of three types of single-serve packages for canned tuna found that while retort cups and pouches produced fewer greenhouse gases than metal cans during the manufacturing process, pouches did not perform as well in a full life-cycle analysis, Food Production Daily reported Sept. 15.

Focusing only on the manufacturing process, researchers at Bangkok’s Kasetsart University found that metal can production created 70% more GHGs than retort cups and 60% more than retort pouches. However, when the researchers performed a full life-cycle analysis, they determined that retort pouches had the largest carbon footprint, lead researcher Ngamtip Poovarodom told Food Production Daily.

Retort cups, however, still performed the best: the LCA indicated that cups produced 10% fewer emissions than metal cans and 22% less than pouches.

Retort cups were made from polypropylene and ethylene vinyl alcohol and their lids from polyethylene terephthalate, aluminum, oriented nylon and PP. The pouches were produced from PP, aluminum foil and oriented nylon and the metal cans were made of chrome-coated steel and an aluminum pull cap, Food Production Daily reported.

Part of the reason pouches performed poorly in the LCA was because pouches required six times more energy for sterilization during the preservation process than a can required and twice as much as a cup. Also, the manufacturing process for cans was more efficient than pouches because more cans could be produced per batch.

The report urged the food packaging industry to work on improving capacity and efficiency in processes and not just focus on materials, Food Production Daily reported.

The study was funded by the European Union to help develop low-carbon trade between Thailand and Europe, Food Production Daily noted, and was published in Packaging Technology and Science.

The primary source of this article is Food Production Daily, Montpellier, France, Sept. 15, 2011.

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