A bag-in-box or BiB is a type of container for the storage and transportation of liquids. It consists of a strong bladder (or plastic bag), usually made of several layers of metallised film or other plastics, seated inside a corrugated fiberboard box. The bag is supplied to the company which will fill it as an empty pre-made bag. The company filling the bag with its product generally removes the tap, fills the bag (with wine, juice or other liquid) and replaces the tap and then the bag is placed in the box. The bags are available as singles for semi-automatic machines or as web bags, where the bags have perforations between each one. These are used on automated filling systems where the bag is separated on line either before the bag is automatically filled or after. Depending on the end use there are a number of options that can be used on the bag instead of the tap. The bags can be filled from chilled product temperatures up to 85 degrees Celsius.
Bag-in-box packaging can be made using form seal fill (FSF) technology, where the bags are manufactured on-line from reels of film, then the FlexTap is inserted then filled on an integral rotary head filler. This technology is currently limited to the packing of wine and soda fountain syrup products.
The first commercial bag-in-box system was invented by William R. Scholle in 1955 for the safe transportation and dispensing of battery acid. In 1991, William Scholle was inducted into the packaging hall of fame for his invention.
The BiB has many common commercial applications. One of the most common uses of BiBs by commercial users are to supply syrup to soft drink fountains and to dispense bulk supplied condiments such as ketchup or mustard in the foodservice industry specifically in fast food outlets. BiB technology is still used for its original application of dispensing sulfuric acid for filling lead-acid batteries in garages and dealerships. As explained further below, BiBs have also been implemented for consumer applications like boxed wine.
For commercial syrup applications, the customer opens one end of the box (sometimes via a pre-scored opening) and connects a compatible connector to a fitment on the bag to pump out its contents. The fitment itself contains a one-way valve which opens only with pressure from the attached connector and which prevents contamination of the syrup in the bag. For consumer applications like boxed wine, there is a tap already present on the bag, so all the consumer has to do is locate the tap on the outside of the box.
Bag in a box packaging is liked by producers because it is inexpensive. Seen from the environmental perspective, a bag also has benefits. The bag allows a contents of 1.5–1000 liters, so that less packaging or labelling is required. The material it is made from is lighter than the other plastic alternatives providing it with a better carbon footprint.
The 'wine cask' was invented by Thomas Angove (1918–2010) of Angove's, a winemaker from Renmark, South Australia, and patented by the company on April 20, 1965. Polyethelene bladders of 1 gallon (4.5 litres) were put into corrugated boxes for sale to consumers. An original design required that the consumer cut the corner off the bladder inside the box, pour out the desired quantity of wine and then reseal it with a special peg.
In 1967, Charles Malpas and Penfolds Wines patented a plastic, air-tight tap welded into a metallised film bladder, making storage much more convenient for consumers. All modern wine casks now utilise some sort of plastic tap, which is exposed by tearing away a perforated panel on the box.
The main advantage to bag-in-a-box packaging is that it prevents oxidation of the wine during dispensing. After opening, wine in a bottle it is oxidised by air in the bottle which has displaced the wine poured; wine in a bag is not touched by air and thus not subject to oxidation until it is dispensed. Cask wine is not subject to cork taint or spoilage due to slow consumption after opening.
However, oxygen transmits through the film and tap at different rates depending on what type of plastics are used and has an unopened shelf life shorter than bottled wine. Most casks will have a best-before date stamped. As a result, it is not intended for cellaring and should be consumed within the prescribed period.
Bag-in-box is also used extensively in the packaging of processed fruit and dairy products in aseptic processes. Using aseptic packaging equipment, products can be packed in aseptic packaging. Pasteurised or UHT treated products packed into this format can be "shelf stable", requiring no refrigeration. Some products can have a shelf life of up to 2 years, depending on the type of bag that is used.
The key to this unique system is that the product being filled is not exposed to the external environment at any stage during the process and as such, there is no possibility of a bacterial load being added to the product during the filling process. To ensure there is no contamination from the packaging, the bag is irradiated after the bag manufacturing process.
These packs are typically from 10 to 1200 litres and offer the advantage of cheap, disposable and transport efficient packaging.
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- Packaging Hall of Fame http://www.pmmi.org/Education/content.cfm?ItemNumber=1056
- Lower, Gavin (March 31, 2010) "Thomas Angove, king of the cask, dead at 92 ", The Australian, retrieved April 1, 2010
- "Wine cask". Powerhouse Museum Sydney. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- Colman, Tyler, The New York Times (August 17, 2008). Drink Outside the Box
- Colman, Tyler, Forbes.com (July 16, 2009). Box Wines That Can Be A Hit
- Yam, K. L., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-0-470-08704-6