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Inverted pouches upend food packaging: Sempack

Inverted pouches upend food packaging: Sempack
Applicable for foods and nonfoods, the Sempack is a conical pouch made with 100%-recyclable PE.

Now 100% recyclable as #2 HDPE, the distinctive conical Sempack pouch can be uniquely positioned as a stand-up or inverted pouch.

As the fourth in a series on the fast-growing inverted pouches market within the relatively more mature category of stand-up pouches, Packaging Digest presents an interesting twist: the unique Sempack from Semco.

Sempack brings a new shape to this inverted take on stand-up pouches, conical. If you combined a tube, pouch and bottle, the result that uniquely has benefits of all three would look something like the pouch supplied by Monaco-based Semco.

Another novel aspect is that the standard Sempack can be marketed and shelved as a stand-up pouch or reoriented 180 degrees as an inverted pouch. We drill down into the one-of-a-kind packaging in a Q&A with exclusive input from Wenael Regnier, CEO, Semco S.A.M., and Rob Clare, applications development specialist, Nova Chemicals, which undertook the development of the new recyclable version.


Compare this pouch with the inverted pouch packaging as seen in the Chobani article.

Regnier: Based on the pastry bag concept, the Sempack packaging format is a flexible conical pouch composed of a 100%-recyclable, multilayer film. With its truly unique design, the Sempack pouch is versatile, offering the ability to stand up or down. The Sempack is the perfect mix between a bottle, tube, and standard pouches, and it is fun—a significant factor in the customer experience of any package.

Clare: Functionally, the Sempack pouch will operate the same as other squeezable pouches, but it offers more variety in accessory options and the ways in which it can be filled and sealed. It's suitable for food and nonfood applications.

With its original and ergonomic design, the Sempack pouch is suitable for a variety of products, ranging from liquids to pasty or semi-pasty substances to powders, and for many industries, including food and beverage, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and industrial. This video provides an overview of potential products:

What’s the history of the original Sempack?

Regnier: The Sempack flexible packaging format was invented and patented in 2012 by SEMCO S.A.M.—a leading expert in the packaging field, established in Monaco in 1971. The product was first introduced in 2015 and is patented in 47 countries.

Is it a premade pouch? How is it filled?

Clare: The Sempack pouch is currently a premade packaging product that can be filled by conventional filling and lidding equipment.

Semco is currently working on the second generation of the Sempack manufacturing process, with a form-fill-seal line as the next step.


What kind of reception has the packaging received?

Regnier: There has been significant interest in the Sempack pouch since it was first introduced—initially within the food market and then with various cosmetic brands.

Semco also received several inNovation-based awards at international tradeshows, such as:

  • Packaging of Perfume Cosmetics & Design (PCD) 2015 in Paris;
  • SIAL in Paris; and
  • Packaging InNovations in Birmingham, United Kingdom

Semco also has completed extensive consumer research, confirming market demand.

What sizes, closures and other options are possible?

Regnier: The Sempack pouch is fully customizable and offers:

  • Different sizes: 200ml; 300ml; and 600mL;
  • A wide range of possible film structure designs;
  • Multiple printings and customization;
  • Various collar sizes/adaptations;
  • Numerous accessory choices are available, including standard caps, flip-top caps, disc tops, caps with valves, and more.

What are the printing options?

Clare: Sempack pouches can be decorated by conventional direct printing methods, such as flexographic or digital, and can be surface- or reverse-printed.

What was the specific original structure?

Regnier: The original Sempack pouch structure was a non-recyclable, mixed-material triplex laminate that was designed to give stiffness, barrier, and sealability to the fitment, base, and lap seal on the pouch body section.

Next: Recycling structure and more

What is the new 100%-recyclable structure and does that include the closure?

Clare: The Sempack pouch is 100%-recyclable structure where facilities exist. It is made from two multilayer polyethylene films that are printed, and then made into the finished laminate to form the pouch body, plus an all-polyethylene formable film for the pouch’s base.

The fitments used also are polyethylene, enabling a secure seal and making the whole unit 100%-recyclable in the HDPE stream.

Comment on Nova Chemicals’ role in this packaging; what was the biggest technical challenge?

Clare: Nova Chemicals has been helping its customers design all-polyethylene films to replace non-recyclable structures for the last few years. A combination of our proprietary resins delivered the performance needed to make the packaging recyclable. After making contact with Semco, we offered to work with them to design a recyclable film, and we provided them commercial-quality films for internal testing.

The biggest challenges were to produce a film that would process well on conversion equipment and provide the right quality of pouch for the end user. Polyethylene does not have the same temperature resistance as non-recyclable mixed-material laminates, so sealing can be an issue when the films are thicker. Our design engineers and application development specialists used the BONFIRE film development platform to help redesign the print web, the sealant webs, and the base film such that all production issues were overcome.

Due to the 3D-shape of the Sempack as well as the heavier weight of the package (film plus closure) compared to traditional flexibles, recyclers have indicated that the Sempack may be successfully sorted from various recyclates and into the rigid HDPE stream. Plans to test this with sorting trials are being developed. We’re very excited at the prospect that the Sempack could be suitable for curbside recyclable in the U.S., which is a key driver of higher recyclate collection rates. 

What’s the market demand for this kind of recyclable packaging?

Clare: Converters and producers of consumer packaged goods are actively looking for solutions to enable recyclable structures to be used as a replacement for current materials, as well as for lightweight alternatives to heavy-gauge options.

In addition, many companies have made sustainability statements, committing to make recycle-ready packaging by 2025. The Sempack pouch is one option that can help achieve this important goal.

Is it available in North America?

Clare: Yes, the Sempack pouch is available in North America. All of the resins that are used are commercially available from Nova Chemicals, and users can either purchase conversion equipment or premade pouches directly from Semco with or without accessories/caps.

What is the market status, is there a customer using or testing especially in North America?

Semco is currently seeking converters and brand owners to launch the format here.

What’s worth noting that’s not apparent?

Regnier: The Sempack pouch is…

  • Eco-responsible and 100% recyclable;
  • A new alternative packaging option that improves upon the best features of other types of packaging products;
  • Offers a content restitution (evacuation efficiency) rate of 96%;
  • Optimized for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets.

Clare: The Sempack pouch’s fully recyclable polyethylene film is easier to produce than mixed-material laminates, as it only requires a duplex film, which saves a step in the production process. This is made possible by the properties of some of Nova Chemicals high-performance polyethylene resins, where different film layers perform multiple functions, i.e., providing barrier and stiffness from the same film layer.

Because it uses up to 40% less plastic material, the Sempack pouch is lightweight. Compared to other common packaging formats containing the same volume, the Sempack pouch is:

  • 38% lighter than other pouch options;
  • 53% lighter than bottles;
  • 74% lighter than tubes.

In addition, the Sempack is easy to fold and occupies less space, making it more efficient to transport.

For further information, visit Semco S.A.M. or Nova Chemicals

Read the other features in the Inverted pouches upend food packaging series featuring…

ProAmpac (published January 2019)

Uncle Dougie’s and Glenroy (published March 2019)

Chobani (published December 2019)

For more pouch packaging features, see


Much food for thought for packaging will be found at PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019, where innovative ideas in containers and design, the latest machinery and automation solutions and free education at Centre Stage will be available. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________

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