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Frequently asked questions

Explore our comprehensive FAQ page about bag-in-box and spouted pouch for clear and concise answers to common queries, ensuring you have the information you need at your fingertips.
FAQ category

Are SIG bags and pouches BPA-free?

Recently, there has been an incredible amount of verbal and written media coverage on BPA, which has caused many to wonder if they are being exposed to it, and what the resulting health affects are. Today, within its product portfolio, SIG has zero bags and pouches that contain–or are made with–BPA. An official letter on this topic has been issued by SIG. So, regardless if BPA does or does not have negative health affects, it is not found in SIG's bags and pouches; therefore, not a risk to its customers.


What is BPA?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a molecule most commonly used in the production of polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins. Common applications where PC resins are used are automotive light covers, compact disks, and water bottles; overall, it has an excellent combination of clarity, heat resistance, and stiffness. With its outstanding adhesion to a variety of substrates, epoxy resins are commonly used as adhesives and protective coatings.


Within the above mentioned media coverage, some uninformed journalists have made a direct link between BPA and the recycling symbol number 7, which is formally designated as all “Other” materials not included in recycling symbol numbers 1 to 6. While small portions of recycling symbol number 7 packages do contain BPA, the way it has been presented has been misleading.


Often multiple non-BPA materials are combined to satisfy barrier and performance requirements that result in them being classified as recycling symbol number 7. One example of this is SIG's HyBar product line, which combines polyethylene terephthalate (PET: recycling symbol number 1) with low density polyethylene (LDPE: recycling symbol number 4) to form a laminated film that has outstanding oxygen protection and physical strength. Simply put, there are many recycling symbol number 7 packages that do not contain BPA.

Information provided by David Bellmore, Director of Film and Fitment Development.


Information provided by David Bellmore, Director of Technology for bag-in-box and spouted pouch 


Can SIG bag-in-box bags be recycled?

Some of SIG’s bag-in-box bags and taps are recyclable where Resin Identification Code (RIC) 7 is accepted. RIC 7, or “Other,” refers to products containing mixed plastics or those which might have additional components including non-petroleum-based plastics. If a SIG product is marked as RIC 7, it is likely because the tap or spout has a different type of plastic than the bag itself.


Some of SIG’s bag-in-box bags and taps are marked as RIC 4, or “LDPE.” Low-density polyethylene is a common plastic used in flexible packaging and is easily recyclable by most municipalities.


As always, recyclability of bag-in-box bags is contingent upon the disposal requirements of the product contained and the capabilities of the local municipality.


How do our packaging solutions reduce waste?

Flexible packaging, unlike rigid packaging, has the ability to increase the product-to-package ratio, reducing overall waste from excess packaging and product that would have otherwise been left in the package.


With less material required in production and a resulting lower material weight in flexible packaging systems, this method of packaging results in less post-consumer solid waste. This means that after a consumer is done using the product and its packaging, there will be less of the package content to dispose of than, for example, glass or aluminum. In addition, a large portion of flexible packaging volume comes from corrugate, which is highly recyclable and is able to be reused, therefore reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills after use.*


Outside of this, flexible packaging helps to prolong the open shelf life of products. Since the package collapses on itself as the product is evacuated, air cannot enter the package and degrade the product quality.


How is product quality affected by various processing methods?

Different packaging filling conditions affect storage requirements, shelf life, and ultimately the quality of the product. The below chart looks at ambient, extended shelf life, hot-fill, aseptic high-acid, aseptic low-acid and retort filling conditions.


Also learn why aseptic processing and packaging can produce a more high-quality product than Hot-fill or Retort processing. 


What does a typical retail bag-in-box package look like?

A typical retail bag-in-box package can look similar to any of the below images. It typically consists of a bag and a box. The bag is made from a variety of plastic films, with a spout and cap or tap sealed onto it for dispensing the liquid inside. The box is typically corrugate, sized and fluted to the specifications of the product it contains. Retail bag-in-box packages can be found in the food, beverage, and non-food sectors, in sizes from 1L to 10L.


Trends of note in this space include:

  • Storytelling Packaging: Brands can take their packaging to the next level, making the package a tool to communicate their brand story. Online brands  don’t have the luxury of getting their products into the hands of consumers before purchase, so designs must work harder than those in brick and mortar stores.*
  • Ecologically-Aware Packaging: Brands are looking to minimize the amount of materials needed to package their products** – flexible packaging provides excellent source reduction.
  • New Packaging Formats: More and more brands are looking to branch out from traditional package formats – like bottles and cans – and into new packaging concepts. Each year we can see a lot of concepts that play with different forms of packages, so expect to see new forms for traditional products.**


* Webber, P. (2020, January 16). 5 Packaging Design Trends That Will Dominate 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020, from
** Team, 99. (2020, August 19). 11 Top Packaging Design Trends for 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020, from biggest packaging design trends for 2020 are:&text=Blurry color splotches and blurred,Natural & earthy pastels

What does shelf stable mean?

Shelf stable means that the filled package can be stored for long periods of time in ambient conditions without refrigeration or freezing. Some liquids are naturally shelf stable, and do not spoil, while others have to be processed and filled via hot-fill or aseptic to achieve the required sterility so that they can be treated as such.

Non-perishable products such as these include canned and bottled foods, rice, pasta, and foods processed in aseptic packages. In order to be treated as shelf stable, “perishable food must be treated by heat and/or dried to destroy foodborne microorganisms that could cause illness or spoil foods.”* Our aseptic bag-in-box packaging provides the treatment necessary to maintain its sterility for products to be able to sit on shelves for an extended period of time, and thus be considered shelf stable.


What is a closed-loop dispensing system?

Closed-loop dispensing systems are systems where both the product and dispenser interface are completely closed, before, during, and after the dispensing process. This eliminates contact exposure. “These systems offer safety and convenience by minimizing opportunities for contamination while in-use and extending freshness upon opening.” Closed-loop dispensing can be used in both bath-in-box and pouch packaging.


What is a sustainable package?

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a sustainable package is:

• Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.
• Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
• Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
• Maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
• Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
• Is made from materials healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios.
• Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
• Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial cradle-to-cradle cycles.


What is a UN-Certifiable package?

UN packaging requirements involve a series of protocols to guarantee safety during the transportation and storage of goods. UN packaging testing is a series of tests and requirements to determine the integrity and safety of the package when facing various situations. Once a package has undergone a series of safety tests, the package is considered safe for transportation and is UN-Certifiable.*

Tests conducted in this process include testing for leakage, reactions to pressure, ability to undergo stacking, and resistance to piercing. After all testing is completed, and a report has been drawn up to show that they were successful, a package is considered UN-Certified.*


*UN Packaging Requirements: Complete Guide. (2020, April 07). Retrieved July 06, 2020, from


What is ambient packaging?

Foods and beverages that are retailed and stored in normal room temperature are called ambient food.* Also known as fresh, this packaging occurs when a product is filled into a package with no additional sterilization treatment. Ambient packaging treatment fights off harmful microorganisms with heat to avoid contamination to food products.* With ambient-filled food or beverage packaging, the products must either be refrigerated or frozen in order to maintain their shelf life.


*Ambient Food Packaging Market Analysis – Global Industry Size, Share, Trends and Forecast, 2014 – 2024. (n.d.). Retrieved July 07, 2020, from 


What is aseptic packaging?

Aseptic filling is a processing technique that makes it possible to package items that are shelf stable without preservatives. Items that are packaged aseptically do not need to be refrigerated and can be safely consumed for up to twelve months.


The FDA has developed a set of standards for aseptic filling because it is used for so many products, particularly food and pharmaceuticals.


How does aseptic filling work?

Aseptic filling works by introducing a pre-sterilized product into a pre-sterilized container. Items are sterilized using ultra-high temperatures for a few seconds at a time.

By keeping all parts of the filling process sterile, harmful microorganisms are kept out of the final package and there’s no need for refrigeration. This is done in four steps:

  • One: The product to be packaged is sterilized, cooled, and put into a filling machine
  • Two: We send pre-sterilized packaging that is safe and ready for you to use
  • Three: External package surfaces are re-sterilized using our Vapor Sterilant Technology™
  • Four: The package enters a pre-sterilized environment and is filled and hermetically sealed

Some examples of items that are commonly packaged using aseptic technology are milkcoffee, and fruits and vegetables. Items retain their original flavor, color, and nutritional value while retaining their freshness.


What is bag-in-box packaging?

Bag-in-box packaging utilizes a box, bag, and fitment to transport and dispense liquid products both efficiently and without contamination.

• Bag: The bag is constructed from layers of film that are sealed together and designed to protect the product quality and keep it safe inside from filling through end use.
• Spout: The foundation of our all bag-in-box fitments, this plastic-framed opening is sealed into the bag when it’s made and is the entry point for filling the product into the bag. After filling, bag spouts are covered by either a simple cap, dispensing tap, or connector and fitment depending on their intended end-use.
• Fitment: This is a broader category of items including spouts, caps, valves, and more. It encompasses anything that attaches to the bag spout. Bag-in-box fitments can be anything from simple caps that cover a spout, to sophisticated dispensing valves or connecters and hoses that bridge between the spout/valve and outside dispensing equipment.
• Box: the outer package that holds the capped and filled bag. This can be anything from a simple cardboard box to an industrial-sized steel drum.


The bag is first filled with liquid product, and then a fitment is placed to secure the packaging. The bag is then placed in a box to ensure safety in transportation and dispensing.


Bag-in-box history


Bag-in-box was pioneered and patented by William R. Scholle in 1955, and it was initially used to safely transport battery acid to automotive filling stations and repair shops. While only starting off in the automotive industry, this packaging system quickly spread to other industries. After the aseptic filling process was perfected in 1956, bag-in-box was able to expand into working with food and beverage products. Learn about the roll Scholle IPN played in developing aseptic packaging.


What is co-extruded film?

*Co-extruded film is a multilayer film produced by a compound molding technique that extrudes thermoplastic resin with multiple extruders and passes that through a single die to build up layers of melted resin both on the inside and outside of a film. A film can be produced on a blown film or cast film extrusion line. It can be made with one layer or multiple layers of material. When a film is made with one layer of material, it is called a mono-layer film. When it is made with multiple layers of material, it is called co-extruded film. Scholle IPN uses blown film extrusion and has lines with up to 9 layers of film. Some examples of our co-extruded films include the 7-layer EnduraShield Advance and the 5-layer FlexiShield Advance.


*What is Coextruded Multilayer Films ?: Coextruded Multilayer Films. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2020, from



What is film lamination?

Laminates are created when a piece of equipment takes two (a structure called duplex) or three (a structure called triplex) films and adheres (or bonds) them together. SIG uses solvent-free technologies for this process for both adhesive and thermal lamination. Laminates are used for a variety of flowable products, and SIG’s unique structures are designed to keep products safe while extending their shelf life. Laminates can be used in combination with fitments and filling equipment to create a complete solution to meet all needs.


When it comes to printed film, we offer printed roll stock using flexo or roto technology. This print can be on the surface of a film, or reverse printed on a substrate and then laminate to protect it inside the structure. Learn more about one of our film manufacturing locations here!


What is gravity-dispense packaging?

In a “gravity-dispense” package,  the cap is removed from the package and a valve is attached to the spout. The package is then hung in a rack that points the valve downward. Gravity then forces the product to flow when the valve is opened.


What is horizontal form-fill-seal (HFFS)?

Horizontal Form-Fill-Seal is a piece of equipment that both produces a pouch from roll stock film and spout and cap assemblies, and fills it in the same operation. The film or laminate travels through the machine in a horizontal direction, which gives the machine the “horizontal” description. This process accounts for all parts of manufacturing a complete pouch product, from film unwinding, pouch forming, filling and sealing, as seen below. A benefit of HFFS is that it optimizes the total cost of ownership and allows for more flexibility in sizes and shapes in production. It also provides the manufacturer with total control of their packaging process.


What is hot-fill packaging?

Hot-fill packaging is a way of sterilizing the package prior to the filling process to ensure the protection and longevity of shelf life for a wide range of products. This process works by first filling heated, commercially-sterile products in non-sterile packaging. This means that the liquid is heated to near boiling (~ 92 Celsius) before it is filled into the package. Once filled, the package is inverted so that the hot liquid comes in contact with all of the package’s internal surfaces. It is then held at a high temperature for a set period of time, before it is cooled to room temperature. Only high-acid products can be hot-filled and held at ambient temperatures without refrigeration.


What is pouch packaging?

Pouch packaging is a flexible packaging product made from barrier film, foil, and spout and cap fitments that supports flowable liquid products. Pouches are designed with the flexible needs of the consumer in mind, as there are flexible sizing options to fit any product.

With CleanPouch Aseptic, pouches are able to be stored in ambient temperatures and products maintain their freshness for long periods of time. Pouches are lightweight, compact, and have minimal product waste because of its flexible material that breaks down as it is used. Recycle-ready pouch options are also available using RecShield barrier film.


What is pour-out packaging?

Pour-out packaging is where the user pours the product from the bag-in-box package (either from the box or bag). The fitments for pour-out packaging are typically simple spouts with an over-cap.


What is pump-out packaging?

Pump-out packaging is where the bag has some sort of adaptor type cap that attaches to a hose and pump by a connector. The pump then pulls the product from the bag and delivered to a remote location. Operation of the pump is either automatically controlled by a CO2 pump or by the user operating a manual pump lever.


What is slash-and-serve packaging?

Slash-and-serve packaging is where the bag is cut and the product dumped out of the bag and into another vessel.


What is the difference between high-acid and low-acid processing?

The FDA CFR113 defines low-acid foods (other than alcoholic beverages) as having a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity (aw) greater than .85. For example, tomato products having a finished equilibrium pH less than 4.7 are not classified as low-acid foods. The division between low-acid and high-acid foods is based on the limited pH growth of clostridium botulinim.


• High-acid products have a pH lower than 4.6
• Low-acid products have a pH level higher than 4.6


Learn more about aseptic packaging technology here!


What is source reduction?

Source reduction means minimizing waste before it’s created. It means using less to make packaging and products. Right now, over 60% of all materials are landfilled or incinerated. Approaching this problem from a source reduction standpoint would ask companies to eliminate wasteful practices and invest in technologies that improve efficiency in packaging. This can take on a few forms:


• Using fewer materials to create a product
• Cutting the weight or volume of an item
• Simplifying the supply stream or an item’s transportation needs
• Bringing production in-house to avoid shipping overhead


Eliminating waste is fundamental to building a circular economy. Committing to source reduction isn’t a fixed set of principles, but rather an overall approach to how we pick, design, and transport materials. Some choices are more obvious than others: developing recycle-ready films is a tangible step towards source reduction, while designing fitments that require no threading and use less plastic is an important, but perhaps less obvious step towards source reduction.

At Scholle IPN, source reduction is a key tenet to how we approach sustainability. Our flexible packaging has a higher product-to-package ratio, which means more of an item can be packaged with fewer materials. Our aseptic technology means we can eliminate refrigeration and cold storage throughout the supply stream. Source reduction happens at every step of the supply chain and is one of the most impactful ways companies can build a more sustainable future.


What is the Materials Science Lab?

Our fully-equipped Materials Science Lab supports all of our locations across the globe through specialized scientific testing that ensures products will meet all goals and regulations. Lab experts do this important work through four distinct types of projects:

• R&D: For any new project, specifications are set for performance and the team continues refining the product until it hits the specification goal.
• Manufacturing Support: This covers anything a manufacturing plant needs to know before changing a product or process, and includes continuous improvement, expansion, and other types of manufacturing projects.
• Commercial Support: Projects that enable customers to find the right solutions for their products. This covers a variety of tests that observe compatibility between products, dispensers, and the packaging materials, as well as analysis of competitor’s solutions and products.
• Quality Support: Investigating customer complaints, and then finding solutions to correct errors, support customers, and keep product quality high.


Get an Inside Look at Our Materials Science Lab!

Located at our headquarters in Northlake, Illinois, this fully-equipped lab is staffed by expert scientists with chemistry and engineering backgrounds who develop testing methods supporting all of our locations across the globe, as well as technicians that operate the lab’s sophisticated analytical equipment. 




What makes aseptic different from hot-fill and retort processing?

Aseptic processing and packaging is the filling of commercially-sterilized products into pre-sterilized containers.


  1. After you process, commercially sterilize, and cool your product, it’s ready to deliver to the filler.
  2. We pre-sterilize incoming flexible packaging, so when it arrives at your location, it’s safe and ready for aseptic filling.
  3. The external surfaces of the cap and spout are then re-sterilized with our patented Vapor Sterilant Technology™ (VST).
  4. Your flexible package then enters a pre-sterilized, enclosed atmosphere that is free of microorganisms, where the cap is removed to begin the filling process. Filling takes place through the spout. The cap is then hermetically sealed onto the spout, creating a contained sterile package for your aseptic product.

Hot Fill Processing

Hot-fill takes place when you fill heated, commercially-sterile product in non-sterile packaging. The product is held for a predetermined time and temperature in order to sterilize the packaging prior to the filling process. The longer hold time at high temperatures reduces quality of the product. Only high-acid products can be hot-filled and held at ambient temperatures without refrigeration.


Retort Processing

Retort takes place when you fill non-sterile product in hermetically-sealed, non-sterile packaging. The packaging is loaded into a retort pressure vessel and subjected to pressurized steam.  The product is also exposed to high temperatures for a much longer period than in hot-filling. The additional time can significantly deteriorate the overall quality and nutritional content of the product.


Aseptic Processing

Aseptic is a desirable alternative to hot-fill or retort processing because it doesn’t expose products to extended periods of high thermal temperatures, which can lead to vitamin, color, taste, and texture degradation. The aseptic process ultimately ensures a better quality product that can still maintain shelf-stable distribution.


Learn More About Aseptic Packaging Technology >


What role did SIG play in developing aseptic packaging?

In the 1970’s, SIG developed the aseptic filling machine which enabled the bag-in-box packaging process. Prior to SIF, the aseptic process had been limited to cans and was most commonly used for dairy products. Aseptic packaging for bulk bag-in-box allowed processors to provide out-of-season products throughout the year, revolutionizing the storage and transportation of processed fruit and vegetable products.


In recent years, we have seen a shift in consumer demands towards healthy beverage options, resulting in the growth of the aseptic drink category. SIG's advancements in filling equipment and bag-in-box technology provide solutions for retail and institutional establishments who wish to offer coffeedairyjuicesmoothies, and other functional beverages, while retaining nutritional value.


What type of testing capabilities does the Materials Science Lab have?

The Materials Science Lab has equipment to support analytical testing, application testing, and mechanical testing for film, bags, fitments, and pouches.

Testing is all about determining fitness for use. The lab team develops tests by looking at what products go through in every part of the process from production through end use. The lab team then distills that whole process into a few reliable tests that can be done in the lab to determine fitness for use in a timely fashion. Our tests and testing equipment includes:


• Vibration Table
• Material Durability Analysis
•  Gelbo Flex Resistance
•  Drop Testing
• Evacuation Tests
• OTR (oxygen transmission rate)
•  Fitment Testing
•  Tensile, elongation, tear, and puncture tests for barrier films
•  Pilot Line for New Film Trials
• ... and More! 




Why don’t aseptically-packaged products need to be refrigerated?

Refrigeration serves to slow or prevent the growth of microorganisms in the product.

Products that are aseptically processed are commercially sterilized to kill harmful microorganisms. These products are filled into a sterilized package using a sterile filler.

Since both the product and package have been sterilized, the sealed package is shelf-stable and refrigeration is not required.


Learn more about aseptic packaging technology here! 


Why is flexible packaging good for ecommerce?

The majority of consumers shop online—and that’s no surprise to anybody. In the United States alone, ecommerce sales reached an estimated $591 billion dollars(1), and globally ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.9 trillion in 2021(2). Over half of all millennials prefer shopping online versus in-person(3), and the COVID-19 pandemic has made online sales a necessity for people looking to get their products safely. And as the above numbers suggest, online sales are only going to continue to grow and reshape the way consumers buy products.


Mintel research indicates that only 11% of ecommerce customers are completely satisfied with the way their packages are received. How common is it to order something small and receive a package that feels redundant? Perhaps a box within a box? Or maybe dozens of torn up pieces of paper and tissue, meant to pad your purchase, only to be broken in transit?


As easy as it is to order online, it’s also easy to review products and purchases, so the final moment when a consumer opens a package is critical. 77% of millennials trust written reviews on websites like Amazon and Yelp just as much as they do a verbal recommendation(4). A few complaints about wasteful packaging or damaged products can be enough to tank a product’s online reliability.


Improving your customer’s ecommerce experience is crucial to the viability of your business, and flexible packaging gives your customers a satisfying ecommerce experience. Not only does our flexible packaging reduce touch points along the supply chain, it reduces the risk of damage in transit with both Compact by Design and SIOC-approved solutions.


Earning trust from your customers isn’t just about providing an excellent product, but about aligning all parts of the ecommerce experience with your company values. A sustainably-packaged item wrapped with care speaks volumes. To learn more about packaging for ecommerce, check out this webinar.


(1) US Census Bureau, Annual Retail Trade Survey/Mintel

(2) Shopify Plus, 2019

(3) Mintel

(4) Mintel