Recyclable plastic barrel joins high pressure processing
Petainer’s One Way PET keg is already a bit of a game changer in its own right. Originally intended for the beer market, it reduces the logistical complexity and cost of steel drums, which must be washed, disinfected and gas purged, then returned to the supplier once emptied. The Petainer keg, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), is already cleaned, disinfected and gas purged. And, as the name suggests, it only goes one way: towards the customer. Once emptied, it is recycled instead of returning to the supplier. Then the next PET drums arrive prepared for use as well.
Photo courtesy of Hiperbaric“The product actually arrives at the brewery, or whoever is going to fill the keg, already sanitized, already clean and already purged with gas, so there is no oxygen in it,” says Andy Brewer, director of Petainer’s technical services for North America. . “So the brewery… all they have to do is fill the keg with the product. The keg then leaves for the trade where it is distributed. And once the distribution is complete, the keg is depressurized, then crushed, then put in the trash. The PET Keg uses the same types of fittings and valves as a standard steel keg, he adds, making it standard operation.
Fast forward to Petainer’s work with Hiperbaric, a leader in high pressure processing (HPP) technology, and packaging has become even more of a game changer, in markets far beyond beer. Petainer has long been known to put alternative drinks in its packaging to bring the benefits of distribution to the pressure in many markets, including soft drinks, aquatic products, fruit juices, cold brew coffee, kombucha. , cider, wine and spirits.
The cold-pressed juice market has shown interest in the capabilities of the One Way PET Keg, but this interest has come with unique challenges. As an unpasteurized product, juice has a much shorter shelf life. Although the Petainer keg has a shelf life of 12 months for oxygen purposes, this shelf life does not apply when living organisms in the juice itself corrupt the drink. To rectify this situation, Petainer needed to partner with Hiperbaric and its HPP technology, thereby increasing the shelf life of the juice to months rather than days.
“Anything that contains alcohol obviously has a good shelf life because alcohol is a preservative,” Brewer notes. “But with juices, there’s a lot of sugars involved. HPP has therefore really been an advantage for this market.
The high pressure process
Unlike pasteurization, HPP provides non-thermal preservation of food and drink products, using high pressure to inactivate foodborne pathogens. “Along with juices, there are different ways to pasteurize, but HPP is the only one that doesn’t use heat,” Brewer comments. “If you put heat on the product, you’re going to start changing the product, especially with juice because it has high amounts of sugars, so you’re going to caramelize it a bit. “
HPP, on the other hand, does not affect the taste of the juice in any way. “HPP maintains freshness, nutrients and flavor like freshly squeezed, unprocessed juice,” says Carole Tonello Samson, Director of Commercial Applications for Hiperbaric. “It also provides extended shelf life and pathogen inactivation. “
Photo courtesy of HiperbaricThe process begins with cold pressing the juice and then filling it into the sterile Petainer Keg which has been purged of its oxygen. The keg then goes through the HPP process — pressurized to 80,000 psi to inactivate spoilage microorganisms and foodborne pathogens, such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.
The keg is then transported to a location such as a juice bar, grocery store, or cafe to be dispensed using nitrogen in the same way wine is dispensed. The use of nitrogen allows the juice to maintain its shelf life in the keg, even if dispensed over a period of one to two weeks.
“For juice bars, Petainer and Hiperbaric technology is a solution that delivers safe, premium quality products in a convenient way. HPP juices offer the same quality as freshly squeezed juices, but without manual labor for peeling, squeezing and cleaning, ”says Samson. “Kegs are much more suitable for bars than small bottles of HPP juice because they can deliver the exact amount needed for the customer’s drink. “
The keg format has also become more popular in grocery stores, according to Brewer. “What we’re seeing with cold brew coffee, juices and kombucha is that people are looking for some form of recyclability. So they watch the growlers, ”he says. “People will take the growler to the supermarket, go to a faucet and fill the growler with whatever product they want, cap it, and then pay for the product. They will then wash the growler themselves and bring it back for reuse.
The cylindrical shape of the drums perfectly matches the processing chamber of the Hiperbaric HPP in-pack units, optimizing the fill rate and the productivity of the system. In addition, Petainer drums and accessories are made from 100% recyclable materials and reduce the CO₂ footprint, thus becoming a more sustainable solution.
Although consumers are often reluctant to use plastics, Brewer emphasizes the benefits of PET drums. “PET is probably the most recyclable plastic around. The drums themselves already arrive with around 40% recycled material. They can therefore be recycled, ”he says. “And the amount of material used for a keg is much less, by volume, than it would be for a bottle.”
Brewer also argues the advantages of using a plastic keg once versus using a steel keg repeatedly. “A steel drum will require washing in hot water up to 170 ° F. At least 3 or 4 gallons of water are needed for that, and you have to take this water from room temperature up to that temperature, ”he emphasizes. “You also have to use detergents; acids must also be used. So there is a lot of energy involved in washing a keg.
Petainer had to make relatively minimal modifications to his barrels in order to make them withstand HPP conditions, according to Brewer. “You have a fitting or a valve on the keg that needs to be opened so that you can dispense and so you can put the product in. The problem would be that if you put the keg directly into the Hiperbaric pressure chambers, the pressure would open that valve, ”he explains. “We needed a way to block that, so we designed a plug that basically goes over the valve, the same way a coupler would snap into place, and it seals it. So even though pressure may build up, there is no way the pressure will reach the valve.