A breakthrough in paper packaging

November 01, 2023

        With the development of society, the concept of environmental protection has become deeply in the hearts of the people. All supplies are produced in a low-carbon way as much as possible in order to consume less resources and protect our earth. Of course, the same goes for food packaging. Paper packaging has become one of the most sustainable alternative materials. According to a report released by Visiongain in February this year, the global paper packaging output value will be US$233.4 billion in 2022, and the compound annual growth rate will reach 5.2% from now to 2023.

        In a previous article we introduced some recyclable and environmentally friendly materials. Today we will specifically introduce the environmentally friendly materials of paper, their benefits when used for packaging as well as their practical disadvantages.

        Paper has many advantages, especially compared to traditional plastics. It’s recyclable, biodegradable, lightweight, low-cost, printable and non-reactive. However, while paper is an easily replaceable option in most market segments, food packaging presents a unique set of challenges, particularly not having good performances of paper, such as moisture control, barrier protection and ensuring product freshness. But as the technology develops, paper for food packaging has overcome its disadvantages.

        Here are several examples of new paper-based packaging materials and technological innovations.

Fluorine-free and oil-resistant recyclable paper

        The kind of the packaging has low gram weight, high oil and grease resistance, which is suitable for fast food such as French fries, sandwiches, and wraps. There is a kind of paper called NextPure OGR made of natural materials with the 38 gsm weight whose barrier function can play an excellent performance. At the same time its oil resistance reaches KT level 7. The fiber material comes entirely from certified sustainable forestry and controlled sources. Thus, the paper is fluoride-free, ensuring the paper is fully recyclable. Moreover, the unique arrangement of paper fibers also enables high whiteness and excellent printability.

Alternative fiber

        At present, kraft paper is very popular with Its simple color, toughness and environmental protection. It’s reported that a new type of alternative fiber is produced by Mondi. This fiber can not only come from trees, but also recycled fiber from dried foods such as flour, sugar and noodles. These fibers can be used in the food industry. Mondi plc has gained the food-certified ISEGA. That is to say, the paper belongs to an environmentally friendly kraft paper, which is made from recycled and fresh fibers from trusted sources. This is the first time that environmentally friendly kraft paper has been used for dry food packaging.

Lightweight pizza box

        Pizza boxes haven’t been changed since the mid-1960s. But Metsä proves there's always room for improvement on the pizza box. Metsä worked with industry professionals to create a lightweight packaging that reduces weight and material consumption by around 30% compared to traditional solutions, without compromising on hardness or holding and transporting freshly baked pizzas. This kind of box is very environmentally friendly.

Bamboo fiber clamshell packaging

        Bamboo fiber packaging has gradually become favored by many consumers in the past two years because of its portability, environmental protection, and neatness. Made from unbleached bamboo fiber and free of PFA, wax and plastic liners, these 100% compostable containers are a sustainable option for foodservice operators who need an environmentally friendly and oil-free packaging solution.

        Now, the freezable, soak-proof clamshell packaging has two to three slots designed to hold similarly shaped hot and cold foods, ensuring they stay fresh and delicious. The clamshell packaging snaps securely, minimizing threats that may be encountered during transportation. After use, these containers compost in just 2 to 4 months, leaving no waste or harmful residue.

Bio-based coating-a new coating for paper packaging

        Bio-based coating is a professional new environmentally friendly material suitable for pulp or paper products in the agricultural and food supply chain that require waterproofing and long-lasting structural integrity. With this coating, paper products can be effectively waterproof and not easily deformation, greatly reducing the problems of paper packaging. This coating offers a matte appearance, smooth texture and a more sustainable rounded profile compared to wax and polymer film coatings.

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