PA install machine for heat sealing a fully recyclable and home compostable pulp punnet

G’s Fresh have a state-of-the-art mushroom farm at Littleport Mushrooms which opened in 2012. It consists of 48 growing tunnels growing button, closed cup and flat white mushrooms. G’s have already invested in a 2.5 megawatt anaerobic digestion plant close to the farm which provides renewable energy to power the facility using organic waste from the company’s crop growing operations and supplies surplus energy back into the grid.

With G’s forward thinking approach and company ethos to help the environment, they ventured down a path to take their mushrooms which were previously packed in PP trays and stretch film, into an eco-friendly package with recyclability and composability in mind. Working in partnership with CKF Inc., they developed a certificated home compostable pulp punnet which improves the shelf life of mushrooms and keeps the product fresher for longer. Aesthetically, the punnets have a more natural look and feel. The punnets are made from fully home compostable material and allow moisture to be absorbed, whilst still maintaining integrity. In a standard plastic punnet, moisture cannot be absorbed and sits in the bottom of the container. This exposure can lead to increased deterioration of the mushrooms leading to them becoming discoloured.

G’s and CKF Inc. won this year’s CSR Excellence Award at the FPC’s Fresh awards, earlier in the year for this innovation, as well as a packaging innovation award at the FPJ’s Fruit and Vegetable Awards.

Packaging Automation’s challenge was to deliver a heat sealing machine to maximise output at no additional cost to the current process. The Revolution XL machine with an extra large sealing bed allowed the new pulp tray to be accommodated and achieve the speeds demanded by G’s Mushrooms. The machines single lane format also allowed the heat sealer to slot straight into an existing line with a relatively small footprint and caused minor disruption to production.

Mike Pimlott the Farm Director for Mushrooms commented…
“We are continually looking to improve what we do as a business and we were looking for a machine that could pack our product with the same efficiency but with an eco-friendly pack. With the long standing relationship and numerous heat seal installs throughout the group I had no hesitation in contacting Packaging Automation. I was pleased with the knowledge they had from trials they had already carried out on alternatives to plastic prior to our interest. They worked closely with us in getting this right for our customer.”

The Revolution XL has delivered in terms of speed and efficiency and given G’s the function now to offer an economical, ecological package to their customer which is important in the current climate.

One major benefit of the Revolution XL was the PowerDrive technology developed by Packaging Automation, this is the fully electric system that operates the Revolution XL and reduces energy and running costs but more importantly takes away the need for any compressed air.

Feedback from the operators and engineers on site has been that the Revolution XL is easy to use and maintain. The Pod system on the tooling assists maintenance and cleaning. The HMI interface is easy to operate with user-friendly controls and the reporting system provides vital production data.

PA have service engineers throughout the UK on call 24/7, the Revolution is fitted with Remote Diagnosis which allows the PA service team to dial in to the machine to diagnose issues over the phone and support the customer remotely.