The annual competition promoted by the European Aluminium Foil Association rewards technological innovation and respect for the environment in aluminium foil-based products
by Giuseppe Giordano
Even this year the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) awarded the prizes of the Alufoil Trophy competition, dedicated to products, packaging solutions and sealing systems based on aluminium foil. The competition is definitely the most important annual showcase for innovation and technical evolution as regards the use of aluminium foil. During the 2019 edition, nine prizes were awarded, subdivided into five different categories: Consumer Convenience; Marketing + Design; Product Protection; Resource Efficiency and Technical Innovation. Winners were mainly food packaging products and all the prize winners have interesting improvement properties in terms of consumer convenience and environmental impact in the product’s design, without neglecting the technological innovation aspects. The detailed description and the technical properties of all the award-winning products are published on the EAFA website (www.alufoil.org).
Innovation and social responsibility
A significant example is an aluminium foil lid for food containers which enables embossed printing in Braille characters, therefore allowing to provide information to buyers with visual impairments. The lid with embossed Braille print is manufactured by the Austrian company, ConSeal GmbH, using an exclusive technology (patent pending). It is interesting to note that the Braille wording also ensures the easy separation of the lids placed in the stackers in the packaging lines.
Social aspects are definitely also present in the new Formpack® Dessiflex Ultra blister for Augmentin® manufactured by Amcor e GSK, awarded the prize in the Product Protection category. The new blister improves the protection of a widely used antibiotic (Augmentin), which is very sensitive to humidity and up to now was distributed in glass vials. The new blister pack for patients, with desiccator, contains six tablets of Augmentin and has been made using the Formpack® Dessiflex Ultra Blister system with a special foil lid, therefore allowing distribution without conservation issues even in geographical areas with high humidity. Besides, thanks to the green colour of the Dessiflex layer in contact with the medicine, counterfeiting the product becomes much more difficult.
Energy efficiency and customer care
One of the award winning products does not belong to the packaging sector, but it is an industrial use of foil. Hygrosieve® is an innovative lacquered aluminium foil developed by Italcoat, a company within the Laminazione Sottile group. The product was specifically developed by Laminazione Sottile›s R&D division for rotors used in ventilation plants.
The foil is lacquered with a hygroscopic coating, which provides the effect of a molecular sieve. Performances in terms of absorption and/or selective release of vapour are improved, with a consequent energy saving adding up to 15%. Aluminium foil is chemically degreased and coated on both sides with a lacquer having an innovative hygroscopic formulation. The lacquer is applied by means of coil coating. An additional advantage is the reduction of the flow of refrigerating fluid, which also contributes to a greater energy efficiency of the rotor.
The prize winner which is most outstanding for its innovative content is e-WAK® by Guala Closures Group, which is the first bottle closure with an NFC (Near Field Communication) system allowing contact between the producer (for instance, a winery) and the final consumer thanks to a microchip inserted in the aluminium sealing capsule. The chip sends a signal to enabled smartphones allowing product evaluation and at the same time guaranteeing its authenticity. An absolutely original communication channel is therefore established between consumer and producer.