Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring and Valmet are building a demo plant in Äänekoski. The plant will manufacture new 3D fibre products for food packaging and other purposes.
The demo plant reached its full height on 23 March 2021 with construction work proceeding as planned. The main equipment delivered by Valmet will be installed in the autumn 2021, and the first test runs should begin at the end of 2021 – approximately 12 months after the start of the construction.
“The demo plant will test the production of new 3D fibre-based packaging. New packages will be tested with different partners to receive feedback on their market feasibility,” says Veli-Matti Hulkko, Technology Manager at Metsä Spring.
The advanced production process is efficient and flexible. Wood fibre from Metsä Group’s mills could be used to produce large volumes of completely ready packages for different purposes.
“We’ve chosen technologies that help us minimise the consumption of raw material and energy in production. The plan is that nothing goes to waste. The demo plant is located in an industrial production site operating in Äänekoski, which ensures the availability of the raw material and entirely fossil free energy. It also enables the wise use of water and other resources. And there is no need to transport materials from distant locations,” says Hulkko.
The combination of Metsä Group’s expertise in production and packaging design, Metsä Spring’s innovative organisation and Valmet’s experience as a technology supplier enables the demo plant to create a foundation for significant future business.
“Metsä Group has expertise in packaging materials, production requirements and growing markets. As a leading global equipment and machine manufacturer in the forest industry, Valmet is capable of delivering a highly automated, resource-efficient manufacturing process to the demo plant using the latest technology,” Hulkko continues.
“It’s been great to see how bold visions of the future have rapidly turned into practical measures with Metsä. Seamless cooperation with the partners has been crucial in rapid product development. We’ll be able to receive results at the end of the year thanks to the successful demo start,” says Sampo Immonen, head of Line R&D at Valmet.
The demo plant will manufacture wood-based packages, which can replace plastic and aluminium packages. Products are renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, and their raw material comes from sustainably managed forests, which are primarily owned by Finnish families. There is already now significant demand for the products, and the demand is estimated to grow in the future.
If it is possible to prove that the manufacturing method and the product function well, a larger production unit could be built next to Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill, for example.
Innovation company Metsä Spring invests expertise and financial resources into initiatives with the ambition to reshape the forest-based bioeconomy, aiming to increase the value for Metsä Group’s stakeholders in the long-term.
The demand for flexible packaging materials is growing amid the transition towards sustainable food packaging. Walki has answered to this need by investing in a brand new flexo printing machine in its Jatne plant in Poland.
“This new investment will significantly increase our capacity and we will be able to answer to the fast growing demand in flexible packaging”, says Andreas Rothschink, Sales Director, Consumer End Uses at Walki.
The high-speeed machine is a 10-colour, state of the art flexographic printing machine that offers top quality and low change-over waste. The investment includes a fully automatic plate mounting machine to further ensure superior printing accuracy on both paper and film and a system for fully automatic job setting in the printing machine. The inks used are water-based and hence environmentally friendly.
As the food industry is shifting to recyclable food packaging, paper-based materials come up as a strong contender. The look and feel of the packaging is an important differentiating factor for end consumers. This sets high demands on the print quality.
“The new flexoprinting machine assures great accuracy of the printouts and a very high quality”, says Jakub Gunert, Plant Manager in Jatne.
The importance of flexible packaging will grow substantially in the coming years as paper-based packaging is efficient both in terms of the amount of materials used and easy recyclability.
“With this investment we are strenghtening our capabilities to further improve the quality and efficiency in all of our product categories, ”, says Andreas Rothschink.
In addition to food packaging, the new machine in Jante will also serve ream wrapper customers.
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At Walki, we believe in a sustainable and circular tomorrow. Our mission is to accelerate the world’s transition into a zero waste future in packaging and promote the use of energy efficient materials across industries. Walki’s product solutions are designed to bring value to customers in many different markets; from sustainable materials for packaging applications to energy saving performance materials. Walki is a growing international group organized in three business areas: Consumer Packaging, Industrial Packaging and Engineered Materials, with operations in twelve different countries, both in Europe and Asia. In 2019, the Group’s annual turnover was approx. 400 million euros employing around 1000 people.
VTT is testing Thermocell plastic film made of cellulose and fatty acids in the production of food packaging in cooperation with Arla Foods, Paulig, and Wipak. Thermocell plastic material, which is made from renewable components, is to be used in the same way as fossil-based plastic. Thanks to the development work, many features of the film already meet the requirements of the food industry, and cooperation has advanced to the testing of industrial production.
Renewable origin and recyclability of packaging materials are of increasing interest to both consumers and packers. Bio-based options are being sought for oil-based, or fossil-based plastics, which could be worked, used, and recycled like traditional plastics. One emerging solution is cellulose, the structural ingredient in plants which, just like plastics, is composed of large polymer molecules. When cellulose is extracted from wood, it does not compete with food production, as many other biomaterials do. In addition, efficient production methods have already been established in the production of cellulose. However, cellulose as such has lacked one important feature of packaging plastic: thermoplasticity.
VTT developed the thermoplastic features for the needs of the food industry
A method developed by VTT enables the production of Thermocell plastic, a thermoplastic substance, out of cellulose and bio-based fatty acids, which are suitable for applications such as injection molding, coating of paper and paperboard, and 3D printing. The current focus of development work in the manufacture of films is in extrusion technology.
“We have moved from the laboratory to bigger machinery while at the same time improving the quality of the film. Our goal is to show that Thermocell film can be produced on an industrial scale using the same equipment that is used for traditional plastic films, with features that meet the needs of the food industry. For this reason, Arla Foods, Paulig, and Wipak are also taking part in the research”, says Jarmo Ropponen, the research team leader at VTT.
“The focus in our development of packaging in the coming years is on recyclability. The development of renewable, bio-based materials supports our long-term goals. The development of Thermocell still requires work to ensure that it can be used with machinery, and that it has long shelf life, among other features. We wanted to support material development so that the requirements of our products will be considered already in the early stages of development”, says Kati Randell of Paulig.
A thin, durable, protective, and safe film is required
Food packaging favours films that are as thin and durable as possible, but yet protect foods safely. Thermocell has already been shown to provide good protection against water vapour, and none of its components migrate into the food. Thermocell film can also be heat sealed using the manufacturers’ standard equipment.
A significant achievement in the development of Thermocell is the smaller thickness of the film. With advances in production machinery, the film has become more even, and its thickness is already down to 100 micrometres. If the material is to compete against thin plastic films, the thickness needs to be reduced further. The aim is also to orient the film and thereby improve its strength and its protective qualities.
Feedback from partner companies has also allowed us to see other features that are important on the market. The friction characteristics of the film are one example of this, so that it could be more easily used on industrial packaging lines”, Ropponen says.
The recyclability of Thermocell has proven to be nearly equal to that of the most common thermoplastics. It can be melted down and extruded again at least five times with no significant deterioration of its features. Recycling still requires that it should be sorted separately.
Thermoplastic bio-based plastic without additives
The first cellulose-based plastics were developed already before anyone even thought of using oil as a raw material. Cellulose acetates, which are still extensively used, date back to that time but their thermoplastic properties require large amounts of additives. Thermocell, which is produced from cellulose and fatty acids, shows thermoplastic behaviour with no additional substances at all.
In the method developed by VTT, cellulose polymers are split into shorter chains before adding fatty acids, improving the reactivity of the cellulose, making the resulting material more thermoplastic. At the same time, it gives better protection against water and it can be more easily heat sealed.
“In our most recent test runs we have utilised small amounts of traditional plastic additives because they make it easier to manufacture film, and improve its features”, Ropponen says.
Once the research group has completed the fine-tuning of the traditional plastic film applications to suit the needs of packers, the focus of development work can be shifted to practical recycling concepts. The aim is to adapt the film to collection and recycling systems that are used on the main markets in the world.
Mondi, a global leader in packaging and paper, has successfully developed a new recyclable functional barrier paper range. Designed with protection in mind, this range of certified recyclable barrier paper solutions is fully integrated across Mondi’s value chain—from paper production to the barrier application—and can run on existing filling lines for form-fill-and-seal (FFS) applications.
Mondi’s AegisPaper range reduces the amount of plastic used by replacing it with a renewable resource that has specific mechanical properties, such as puncture resistance, flexibility, printability and barrier protection. The coatings technologies applied to these papers create custom barriers against grease and water vapour and ensure sealability. AegisPapers are suitable for numerous packaging applications within the dry food, frozen food, pet food, confectionery, secondary packaging, toy, e-commerce, flower packaging, and DIY industries.
The functional barrier paper can replace plastic packaging that has traditionally been used for FMCG and consumer products. In a first step, Mondi’s collaboration with a European dry pasta producer will reduce the plastic used by 90% and save them 7,5 tonnes of plastic film per year for one of their product ranges. This pasta packaging and other commercialised solutions will be entering the market in the first half of 2021.
“Sustainability is at the centre of our strategy and I am pleased that this continues to be a focus for our customers. Thanks to combining Mondi’s know-how of paper making, coating, printing, converting, pouch and bag making alongside our expertise in selected end-uses for consumers, we make ‘paper where possible, plastic when useful,’ a reality. This launch is a breakthrough for the next generation of sustainable packaging.” said Peter Orisich, CEO, Flexible Packaging and Engineered Materials, Mondi.
Within AegisPaper, there are three grades available for different applications and requirements:
- AegisPaper select offers a wide range of custom barrier properties
- AegisPaper 95/5 food is certified as fully recyclable and has the best mechanical properties for food applications
- AegisPaper reduce provides the thinnest functional barrier paper to reduce amount of packaging material needed
The paper and coatings are all produced and applied in Europe.
Read more about Mondi’s range of recyclable barrier papers, AegisPaper, here: www.mondigroup.com/aegispaper
Mondi’s fully recyclable barrier papers for packaging solutions have the following possibilities for coating, converting, and packaging.
A recyclable functional barrier paper where coatings are applied to create a fully integrated Mondi solution. The range offers sealability properties and integrated barrier functionalities.
- Custom barriers against grease and water vapour
- Recyclable in existing paper recycling streams
- Runs on standard FFS lines
- Ideal substitute of plastic laminates
- Basic printing capabilities
- PVDC free
- Recyclable certifications for certain grades by PTS, CEREC and Interseroh.
The three grades of AegisPaper are:
- Dispersion coated product
- High performance sealing layer
- Grease and water vapour barrier
- Recyclable in several paper streams in Europe
AegisPaper 95/5 food
- High mechanical performance
- Insect protection
- Water vapour and moisture barrier
- 95/5 Paper to plastic ratio, recyclable in all paper streams in Europe
- Insect protection
- Water vapour and moisture barrier
- Recyclable in several paper streams in Europe
Mondi’s converted formats made with AegisPaper
With AegisPaper, Mondi can offer a fully recyclable certified barrier paper packaging solution that are converted into Mondi’s familiar formats. The range includes integrated barrier properties and are suitable for a wide range of FMCG applications.
- Uses Mondi paper technology to achieve mechanical properties like puncture resistance, tear strength
- Improved packaging line processing with special smooth packaging paper
- High performance sealing layer to maximize line speed and best seal integrity
- PVDC free barrier: water vapour, grease
- Choose your paper surface: natural touch or smooth for best print results
In addition to AegisPaper, AegisBase is also available. This is a white or brown recyclable base paper solution for functional barrier papers with extensive mechanical properties, with high stiffness for high-speed converting lines and high-stretch for wrapping applications. The sustainably sourced range offers paper structures suitable for barrier coatings applications; have excellent puncture resistance, optimal strength, and basic printability properties on a coated surface.
Mondi is a global leader in packaging and paper, contributing to a better world by making innovative, packaging and paper solutions that are sustainable by design. Our business is fully integrated across the value chain – from managing forests and producing pulp, paper and plastic films, to developing and manufacturing effective industrial and consumer packaging solutions. Sustainability is at the centre of our strategy and intrinsic in the way we do business. We lead the industry with our customer- centric approach, EcoSolutions, where we ask the right questions to find the most sustainable solution. In 2019, Mondi had revenues of €7.27 billion and underlying EBITDA of €1.66 billion.
Mondi has a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange (MNDI), and a secondary listing on the JSE Limited (MNP). Mondi is a FTSE 100 constituent, and has been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series since 2008 and the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index Series since 2007.
FreeForm Packaging is launching a new, stretchable, paper laminate based on 85% paper. The new laminate is considered to be “one-sided”, which has been highly requested by many brand owners and retailers. Called Standard Paper Out, it does not have the traditional polythene layer on the outside – instead, it has paper. This gives any FreeFormPack® a natural, warm feel.
FreeForm Packaging produces and sells the world’s first truly formable paper packaging solution, based on stretchable and printable paper-based laminates that you can shape, twist and emboss, along with the unique machines that produce FreeFormPack®. Up until now, FreeForm Packaging has only been able to offer laminates with polythene on both sides to ensure good sealing properties, but this has now changed. A new process enables the packages to be fully sealed and makes it possible to shape them as required. The new laminate still offers good WVTR values, although it is less effective than a double-sided laminate.
“This is like a dream come true,” says Danevert Åsbrink, CEO of FreeForm Packaging AB. The new laminate allows the FreeFormPack system to produce formable paper packaging that is pleasant to the touch, which customers have been wanting for a very long time. “We have been working hard on this for the last six years, so it feels almost unreal to have finally reached our goal,” adds Danevert.
The FreeFormPack Standard Paper Out laminate has two layers of FibreForm®, and one of its two sides has a thin layer of polyethylene that protects the contents while also protecting the packaging. Considering the increased focus in society on recyclability, the emergence of the new laminate has been perfectly timed.
FreeForm Packaging AB is a Swedish company owned by CURTI (Italy) and BillerudKorsnäs AB (Sweden). With the FreeFormPack® Machine by CURTI and the FreeFormPack® Laminate, based on FibreForm® from BillerudKorsnäs in Sweden, the company offers customers more environmentally sound packaging compared to plastic.
The Rockwell Automation Kinetix 5100 servo drive and Kinetix TLP servo motor standalone motion solution is now available in 480V for use in a wider range of OEM applications for packaging, converting, print and web, machine and assembly, and life sciences.
The Kinetix 5100 servo system meets growing consumer demand for more product variety by providing a market-competitive motion-control offering for flexible, standalone machines. Using the Kinetix 5100 servo drive, OEMs can create a motorized or automated system that can help speed up changeovers.
Additionally, with built-in safe torque off, users can remove motor torque without removing power from an entire machine. This allows a machine to restart faster after it has reached a safe state. Dual-port EtherNet/IP also supports device-level ring (DLR) topologies.
As a new age of consumer behaviour emerges, and governments are distracted by the pandemic - environmental concerns have fallen from the political and public agenda.
The dramatic increase in e-commerce and home deliveries has caused a sharp rise in packaging waste, which comes with high environmental costs. At current rates, 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will end up in landfill and the natural environment by 2050. As countries experience further restrictions on movement and a second wave of Covid-19, consumer behaviour is unlikely to rapidly revert to its pre-lockdown state.
Hence, sustainable packaging and paper solutions must be adopted so the global community can protect the planet effectively. There is no time to waste.
Plastics are the most common and wide-ranging materials used for packaging. They are central to FMCG and global industrial supply chains, protecting goods in transit and extending their shelf lives. Their ubiquity means a serious plastic packaging waste crisis must be addressed before irreversible damage is done.
According to the UN, 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced every year. Since the early 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced and c. 60% has ended up in landfill or the natural environment.
Plastic waste is a primary contributor to global ocean pollution with rivers carrying waste from far inland to the sea. Each year, eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans and 100 million marine animals die from entanglement, ingestion, or interaction with this waste. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that, by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea.
The issue extends beyond the environment; plastic waste comes with a significant human cost. In 2019, Tearfund, Fauna & Flora International and Waste Aid reported between 400,000 and one million people die each year from preventable diseases linked to mismanagement and burning of plastic waste in developing countries.
Plastic waste pollution also impacts people’s livelihoods and the economic development of developing countries. The UN Environment Programme reports ocean-based plastic pollution has an annual economic cost of US$13 billion due to revenue losses in fisheries, agriculture, and tourism.
We have a collective responsibility to tackle this plastic pollution crisis. The environmental and human toll is too great to ignore. Sustainable alternatives to traditional packaging and paper exist. It is time for multinationals, manufacturers, and retailers to integrate them into their working practices to help reduce global pollution; protect marine and wildlife species; and those in developing countries.
The growing consumer awareness of this crisis is promising. A recent study of 2,000 UK shoppers revealed 62% are thinking more about sustainability now than five years ago and increasingly looking for environmentally friendly options.
Popular culture is also playing a major role in raising awareness of packaging choices. Notably, David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’ series focused on ocean waste and triggered a passionate global response. Consumers are more aware nowadays that a product’s lifecycle does not end after consumption – rather after its proper disposal.
Nonetheless, the pandemic and the new normal means individuals are more reliant on e-commerce and delivery services than ever before. Manufacturing environmentally friendly packaging and paper is therefore essential. It will help protect the planet and maintain business profitability as consumers increasingly look for eco-friendly choices.
Political and tax incentives for incorporating environmentally friendly packaging and paper are also evident. From 1 January 2021, the EU will tax non-recycle packaging waste through national contributions. In April 2022, the UK will introduce a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content. These plastic reduction policies and public appetite make environmentally friendly packaging and paper attractive for business.
Manufacturing environmentally friendly packaging and paper is vital for the future – on an environmental, human, and corporate level. There is no time to waste.
UK biotech company Toraphene is preparing to unveil the world's first truly biodegradable, compostable and commercially viable alternative to plastic packaging.
The company has developed a new material, also called Toraphene, that uses biopolymers that compost naturally and biodegrade without human intervention, even in the ocean.
The biopolymers are combined with Nobel Prize-winning graphene, which is derived from carbon and is stronger than diamond at an atomic level.
While biodegradable plastics currently exist, they rely on commercial composting, which uses energy to heat the compost, as well as presenting other logistical challenges. For example, in 2019, the BBC found that compostable plastics in Wales were going to landfills rather than being composted because almost all local councils were unable to deal with them.
In addition, some bioplastics produce methane gas when they decompose, a compound with a global warming potential 25 times that of CO2. Toraphene can be optimized to mostly produce CO2 along with mulch that can be used to fortify topsoil.
“Amidst a climate crisis, plastic waste is known to be a huge, global problem and many plastic alternatives now exist, so why don’t we see them everywhere?”, asks Gaute Juliussen, CEO and Founder of Toraphene. “It’s because they need specific manmade conditions to biodegrade, and many degrade into microplastics, which contaminate our oceans and food chain for centuries”.
Such bioplastics have “effectively been ‘greenwashed’ and mis-sold to environmentally responsible consumers and companies,” continues Juliussen. “They also tear easily, shorten the shelf-life of the contents they contain and cannot be produced economically at scale”.
Due to the addition of Graphene, Toraphene has been shown to be stronger, thinner, and less permeable than alternatives, improving food safety and shelf-life. This presents the first commercially viable alternative to plastics.
An entrepreneur, venture capitalist and former Associate Professor of Business, Juliussen founded Toraphene in 2018 with the initial aim of creating a green alternative to carrier bags and food and drink containers. Such plastics make up 23 percent of marine waste.
Birgit Liodden, founder of The Ocean Opportunity Lab, said: “Toraphene has the potential to create a critical turning point in tackling the global plastic pollution crisis. We all know how pressing the climate crisis is, and plastic pollution is a huge problem, particularly in our ocean environments. I’m very heartened by the prospect of Toraphene, which should be a transformative step in tackling plastic pollution and play a huge role in making the world’s oceans plastic-free”.
Ahead of the launch of Toraphene, which is patented in the UK, EU, and the US, Juliussen is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, encouraging anyone who cares for the environment to be part of the Toraphene journey.
Toraphene is renting production equipment from plastic bag manufacturers and plugging directly into existing supply chains. The company is already in talks with major consumer brands, retailers and food packaging suppliers.
Ultimately, Toraphene aims to render plastic packaging obsolete and disrupt the $4 trillion plastics industry.
Toraphene is the world's first fully biodegradable, compostable and commercially viable alternative to plastic bags and packaging. This natural material is stronger, thinner, and less permeable than alternatives, and improves food safety and shelf-life.
Toraphene was founded in 2018 by Gaute Juliussen, an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Associate Professor of Business. Juliussen aims to make plastic packaging obsolete and help to tackle the climate crisis.
A perfect match made both in sustainability and looks – Metsä Board’s paperboard selected for the packaging of SensiDO hair products
SIM Finland Oy is a cosmetics manufacturer that emphasises purity, quality, and design in its products, and pays special attention to sustainability issues. When the company recently renewed its SensiDO professional hair colour range it chose a packaging material that mirrored these exacting values. MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright is a lightweight fresh fibre paperboard with a low carbon footprint manufactured in Finland by Metsä Board, part of Metsä Group.
SIM Finland Oy has invested in energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprint as a part of their sustainability journey. For example, they have almost 700 solar panels installed on the roof of their factory allowing them to run the manufacturing using solar energy.
“Sustainability is an important value in everything we do, including our production, and across all parts of the value chain. When we choose our packaging materials environmentally friendliness, as well as recyclability, are important factors. The finished print result also plays an important role as pleasing and eye-catching aesthetics have great importance for cosmetic packaging,” says Heidi Varjoranta, Sales & Marketing Manager at SIM Finland Oy.
“The renewed packaging has a lot of white space and therefore the paperboard had to be pure white. Thanks to the high brightness of MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright the Pantone® colours were reproduced accurately, both on the top and the reverse side of the board. The printing was finished with a matt varnish that was enhanced by the excellent surface of the paperboard,” says Lauri Raumanni Sales Manager at Grano Oy, the converter of the packaging range.
MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright is made of fresh fibres 100% traceable to their origin in sustainably managed Northern forests, and available with PEFC™ or FSC® certification.
We are honoured to communicate that Stoelzle Glass Group has been awarded GOLD status by the renowned ECOVADIS platform. This is an important recognition of our steadily increasing efforts and measures undertaken in the field of sustainability over the past years.
According to the strict Ecovadis Methodology, which is based on international sustainability standards such as Global Reporting Initiative, United Nations Global Compact, and ISO 26000, Stoelzle Glass Group ranks within the top 4% of all Glass Manufacturers assessed by Ecovadis.
“We are proud about our promotion to the Ecovadis Gold status. This remarkable rating results clearly from our success in reaching a couple of important sustainability milestones, such as the certification according to ISO5001 and ISO14001, the publication of our 2nd GRI based Sustainability Report, our Group-wide Code of Conduct, as well as the successful implementation of a Sustainable Supply Chain Management,” underlines Georg Feith, CEO of the Glass Group.
Stoelzle Glass Group is certainly one of the most engaged and most advanced glass manufacturers in CSR among the 60,000 companies from all branches assessed by EcoVadis worldwide. We constantly strive to improve our processes, technologies and machines in order to contribute significantly to reach the European Green Deal goal to be climate neutral. In this respect, Stoelzle takes also part in the Furnace of the Future Project: Together with several European Glass Plants we work on the development of a high-capacity hybrid electric furnace, which will be able to reduce furnace emissions by 60% and use 80% of electricity from renewable sources, replacing combustion of natural gas.
In addition to all these eco-friendly initiatives, Stoelzle sets also great score on labor & human rights, and has committed themselves to embed firmly their ambitious Code of Conduct, valid for all their employees, and the whole Supply Chain, too, in their company culture.