Exploring smart sustainable packaging

Laetitia Durafour, marketing director at Eviosys, explaining the development process of EcoPeel

In November 2023, metal packaging manufacturer, Eviosys, welcomed CanTech International to its newly opened research & development centre in Wantage, UK

All images courtesy of Eviosys

Metal packaging expert, Eviosys, although only two years old, can boast a history based on 200 years’ experience in the industry, with knowledge gained from the Mivisa, CarnaudMetalbox and Crown Holdings Incorporated packaging businesses. Eviosys has an extensive research and development network, which spans across its operations in Europe and more widely. At the heart of this, is its newly opened R&D centre in Wantage, UK.

Our tour of the site in November began with an introduction from David Hall, Eviosys R&D director, who has been working in the metal packaging industry for 35 years. He said that the site “has always been a leading light” in terms of R&D, and that the company is continuing to uphold this status. However, Eviosys also has labs in France, Italy and Spain, so there is also “a synergy in not doing things independently and working closely with other teams,” said Hall.

Eviosys food processing area

Food processing

The core value of Eviosys’ R&D operations is understanding the interaction between cans and the products inside.

In Eviosys’ food processing area, Hall explained how the company is able to mimic customer processes with its two industrial cookers, which helps Eviosys understand precise requirements and allows for more accurate testing of products. On the day of our visit, split peas were being tested in a chromium-free tinplate can. Hall explained that, aside from peas, the most commonly tested products are blackcurrants, tomato and chicken soups, due to these products being highest in acidity and salt.

There was also a capping machine in this space, as the cookers are able to rotate jars with metal closures on, eg jam. Products such as jam, as well as cans of condensed milk and baked beans, require “agitation,” Hall stated, which is the reason for rotation testing.

We then saw two storage rooms, one at ambient temperature and one at 35°C, which test the storage life of various canned food products (Eviosys products guarantee a four-to-five-year shelf life). Hall also noted that Eviosys’ Spanish site houses a 42°C storage testing facility, but this is smaller in scale compared to those on the Wantage site.


Of course, testing and measuring would not be credible without the science to support it. We continued our tour with Oliver Walker, Eviosys packaging science and EHS manager, who outlined just some of the ways in which Eviosys examines the safety and hygiene of cans.

Firstly, Walker explained that Eviosys offers chromotology guidance for process waters that its customers use – the company is able to measure chemical composition during various processes, to ensure all are safe and up to regulatory standards. The HPLC instrument in the lab can measure migration of BPA from can coatings into product.

The ICP-OES instrument measures trace metals in products and is used to study the interactions of the product with the metal of the can.

Additionally, the microscopy equipment on-site can inspect nanometres of composite elements in the can, as well as seam quality.

Hall used this moment to emphasise the importance of having this kind of equipment and expertise on-site, rather than relying on an external lab or say, a university. Speed is essential and  indeed  invaluable, Hall said, to Eviosys customers. The company has recently made a £100,000 investment in infrared spectroscopy for this reason.

Walker then noted that, while hygiene testing in the product is essential, it is also paramount to uphold excellent hygiene in the equipment Eviosys uses – its MALDI TOF machine has helped in bulk testing bacteria and reduced the time down to a couple of hours, compared to the earlier couple of weeks it would take previously.

For every customer supplying a ‘sensitive market,’ such as infant formula, Eviosys also undertakes an audit process, and offers sample testing, as well as self-testing, for customer employees – Hall noted that Eviosys is “constantly driving the standards” of these audits.

Materials and component testing

Our tour then led us to the materials testing lab. Peter Wilkinson, end development engineer, displayed a pop and tear machine, which measures the score residual of easy open ends.

Dave Williams, materials and component evaluation engineer, then demonstrated how Eviosys undertakes load testing for packing and palletising. The machine used for this can exert up to five tonnes of pressure. In a demonstration, we saw a straight-wall can buckle, with the machine measuring this buckling happening under 9,000 newtons of compressive force. A recent customer tested its biscuit tins with Eviosys, and a report was sent detailing that the body tested reasonably well under the given pressure, but that the base was actually the element of the can that was weakest and bulking during load testing.

Susanna Venditti, technical team leader, then showed us Eviosys’ capabilities at assessing the performance of protective layers applied at the can decoration stage. Various friction testing takes place – ie to see if the cans are sliding or sticking to one another during conveying or transportation – to ensure more energy-efficient mobility. Eviosys can also effectively examine scratches, denting and stretching after the decoration process, Venditti explained.

Pilot facility

The highlight of the day, which rounded off the site visit, was seeing Eviosys’ pilot plant and how the company’s award-winning EcoPeel packaging is produced. Mark Sollis, three-piece development engineer, displayed how sheet metal blanks are welded to form cylinders on the Soudronic FBB line, before parting into two 38mm high cans for the EcoPeel can size. This process doubles the 480 can per minute output.

On the Soudronic line, a side-stripe internal coating is applied to protect the weld. After the cylinders are parted, they head to the metal- forming process to create the EcoPeel wedge – which makes the product release easier for customers.

The cans then undergo the heat seal process at 220°C to apply the EcoPeel lid to the can, before the tab of the lid is folded over to complete the process. Ben Mattin, NPD project engineer, explained that, in the first stages of development, a hand toggle press was used for this process and was only capable of producing 100 cans per week; now, with new technology, Eviosys is able to produce 1,000 cans per week.

The above packaging showcases the florarium trend, combining high graphics and matt and gloss effects


After touring the labs and production spaces, we headed back to the Eviosys office to hear from Isabelle Le Graët,  marketing, communication and sustainability manager for  Eviosys, and Laure Malherbe from trends agency, Caramel, who expanded on the trends associated with the company’s packaging options, and how these will be leading the way in terms of innovation and consumer demand, into 2025 and beyond.

There were three trends detailed: balance, florarium and stellar dream.

The balance trend is all about reconnecting with humanity and how consumers are now making it a priority to take care of themselves and their environment, particularly closer to home – a reported 56 per cent of French people now choose ‘cocooning’ ie staying at home, over going out (Harris Interactive, 2022). The Eviosys packaging we were shown displaying this trend were those with softer metal textures and organic shapes, but Le Graët also noted that pearlescent will be a popular choice for packaging in the near future, as it creates a calming visual and tactile effect.

For the florarium trend, Le Graët spoke about reconciling the artificial and natural to reach heightened imagination. Artificial intelligence plays an important role in this trend, tapping into hyperrealism. The Eviosys packaging Le Graët passed round to illustrate the reconciliation part of this trend was a package with two distinct textures, printed with a high-resolution image of plums. The majority of the packaging was matt effect, however there were water droplets on the plums that were gloss effect, mimicking the look and feel of liquid. Other effects showcasing the florarium trend include hot stamping to create a reptilian visual and texture, as well as utilising glitter in metal packaging to enhance its appeal to consumers.

The last trend, stellar dream, incorporates science and technology, with a focus on optimised health and personalised nutrition. Le Graët noted that 2023 Mintel research found that one in three English consumers would be interested in using cosmetic products that are formulated specifically to their needs. Packaging featuring geometric and monolithic designs will be popular in this trend, stated Malherbe, along with iridescent and sparkle effects, which evoke a futuristic feel. Le Graët showcased a decorative can featuring micro perforations which allows consumers to peer inside from the outer packaging – the inner package featuring a stellar design.

Eviosys already hosts a range of innovative products – such as those aimed at reducing plastic consumption (Horizon); those showcasing lightweighting (EcoPeel) and those that promote packaging inclusivity (Orbit), but from what we saw on our visit, there are plenty of creative possibilities incoming for metal packaging.

In a concluding statement, David Hall said that “Eviosys is determined to lead the way in shaping the future of packaging, and this centre is the embodiment of our dedication to that goal.”

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