Willie Kallhammer – the clear egg packaging pioneer

The first transparent egg carton was initiated by the Ford Motor Company in 1968. The person that realised the potential was a man by the name of Willi Kallhammer, who was an Austrian man born in Vienna with a marketing and sales education at Vienna University and Ford Europe.

In 1969, he established Ovotherm clear egg packaging worldwide, creating successful egg marketing and merchandising concepts.

Currently, he is a senior partner and advisor, helping to coordinate the international sales and marketing activities. His motto: Success is based on innovation, investments and most importantly, on a dedicated team which actually has built Ovotherm since 1965 to become the market leader for clear egg packaging.

From clear polystyrene to rPET

Kuhn Corp was manufacturing the clear polystyrene egg cartons in Australia from 2000 to 2007 and then worldwide. Based on an initiative from Walter Kuhn, there was an agreement to take the product from polystyrene to rPET due to environmental reasons. However, it couldn’t get materialfor rPET in Australia to manufacture. “Even though there is a lot of waste out there today, we still can’t get theraw material,” he said.

“The biggest issue faced by eggs is they are porous and they are fragile. For example, if you take an egg and place it next to an onion in your fridge, it will taste like an onion because it takes all of the pathogens from outside the egg through the porous shell.”

As a result, Kuhn said rPET cartons protect the eggs, prevent breakages and protect the environment, in addition to other benefits.

“What’s also important is the bottom of the cell of these egg cartons – when an egg is suspended and has air around it – it stays fresher for longer. By placing it into cardboard containers, you are almost suffocating it. By suspending the egg, you keep the airflow through it,” he explained.

“The rPET packs that are currently supplied are the only food-grade packaging; by comparison, cardboard is not food grade. When you make cardboard cartons, who knows what goes into them?”

Kuhn further elaborated that many years ago, egg cartons had a product called TetraChloride to bind paper together. This chemical was banned in the US, and eventually in Australia, as it was claimed it would leach into the eggs because the egg surface is porous. “If you look at the lifecycle of an egg carton and the energy used, it is significantly less for rPET so the carbon footprint is less than pulp and it also uses zero water, whereas with pulp you use a lot of water, so there are so many advantages, and overall the egg stays fresher,” he said.

“People only think that cardboard is more natural because it is biodegradable. But to place this back into the earth, it needs oxygen to biodegrade. So, all of a sudden you end up with methane that is 28 times worse for the environment then carbon dioxide, from putting this into landfill. By comparison, the rPET carton can be recycled back into itself again without taking natural resources.”