- Milacron's Klear Can, a new line of clear, recyclable plastic cans for processed food manufacturers, offers opportunities for sustainability, convenience, appearance and even profitability. It could be an alternative to metal cans for fruits, vegetables, soups, meats and other products.
- More than 98% of the can is made of #5 polypropylene (PP) with only a trace amount of metal on the rim, so the can is also microwavable. The small amount of metal left around the rim after consumer use separates during the grinding phase of recycling.
- Klear Can is cost competitive with metal cans and allows manufacturers to display the contents and quality of the product to consumers, according to a news release.
Klear Can uses the same filling, seaming and retorting machinery as metal cans, so manufacturers would make only a minimal downstream investment to switch, Milacron said in a news release. Manufacturers could also produce and mold the cans at the filling site, according to the company.
Besides the potential cost savings such a packaging innovation could offer, Klear Can also enables manufacturers to align with a key trend in consumers' purchase decisions today: transparency. Consumers can see through a clear plastic can and know what a product looks like before they buy it. That has been a struggle for processed foods manufacturers that commonly use metal cans, paper boxes or opaque plastics for packaging.
In a report last September, Packaged Facts named clear packaging a major food and beverage packaging trend, noting it can offer both physical and figurative transparency for a company's products. Also, visually appealing products can better stand out on the shelf before a consumer even opens the packaging.
However, clear packaging also runs the risk of exposing the product's ingredients to direct sunlight, which can degrade the product faster. Also, taking advantage of a clear can means losing label real estate, as the label usually covers the entire can.
The concept of a microwavable can could also usher in a new wave of more convenient products that would take less time for consumers to prepare. Improving convenience and appearance while also keeping sustainability in mind could benefit commonly canned goods that have struggled with sales growth in recent years, such as soup.