Sonoco Products Co. is lifting the veil even more on the company's new TruVue plastic can that's aiming to take business from its steel can cousin.
TruVue, the company has now revealed, utilizes a five-layer wall that includes polypropylene on both the inside and outside of the can. Two layers of adhesive bond that PP to a center EVOH layer that acts as an oxygen barrier.
Sonoco is extruding the can the way pipe is made, through a continuous process. Metal tops and bottoms are then crimped on to the plastic walls and an induction process seals the two materials together.
So those are some of the manufacturing facts, and here's some of the project's insight:
“We don't expect to see plastic cans take over this entire market. But even a strong niche in certain categories would be significant. So that's why we're doing this work,” said Steve C. Gendreau, division vice president, sales and marketing, for Sonoco global plastics.
“How many plastic cans have you seen?” he said, over the years. “I know it's been a lot. Everybody's tried it.”
And while others have tried and failed, he wants people to know “that we truly have the tiger by the tail.”
Sonoco, initially, will produce the metal ends at its Henderson, Ky., plant while the plastic cans will be extruded and assembled in Hartsville, S.C., where the company is based.
When Gendreau looks the center of a grocery store, he sees a blur of similarly marketed packaged foods. What the TruVue can will do, he said, is help connect that area of the store to products typically found at the perimeter — including fruits, vegetables and other healthy and fresh food.
A see-through can, Sonoco believes, will help manufactures show off their wares and market their products in a whole new way.
Instead of using a label to represent what's inside of the can, consumers can simply look for themselves and decide.
“Seeing is truly believing. It really helps drive the perception that you are delivering something that provides freshness. It gives all kinds of clues around quality and trust, which is very important,” he said.
But make no mistake. Steel still is king when it comes to canned goods. And Sonoco is not out to change that. Just capturing a portion of the existing metal can market would be huge for the company.
“Thirty billion units is of interest to us,” Gendreau said. “We don't expect to see plastic cans to take over this entire market. But even a strong niche in certain categories could be significant.”
TruVue, thanks to its metal ends, can be filled and processed on the same canning lines that currently serve all-metal units. That's an important consideration for companies that have invested heavily in their existing canning assets.
“We're not talking about controlling the [canning] environment to get this can to work,” Gendreau said.