In an increasingly competitive environment, food manufacturers are trying to trim their packaging costs without compromising quality. This is not a simple equation to solve.
Food packaging performs many different functions such as protecting the contents and providing a surface for images and text. One feature that has become increasingly important is to minimize the environmental impact of the packaging from a life cycle perspective. This could include issues such as recycling, the use of raw materials and weight of the package – important challenges for the packaging industry.
“So far, we have reduced the weight of CKB (Coated Kraft Backboard) products from Skoghall. The carton has become 10 grams lighter per square meter and we now need 135, 000 fewer trees per year to produce it compared to 2010,” says Fredrik Werner, food packaging business developer at Stora Enso.
“Even though the box is lighter, it retains the same high performance, strength and excellent printing properties.”
Every single board-type is produced according to special quality parameters, where every change in the recipe tweaks the final product. CKB board for example is used primarily for packaging dry and frozen foods. It consists of up to five layers, which is unique, and allows optimization of the various properties. The middle layer consists of CTMP (Chemi Thermo Mechanical Pulp) that gives the box a high rigidity while allowing packaging manufacturers to minimize weight.
And a double-coated top layer improves printability. “The new packaging will give customers a better picture of the contents and improved visibility in stores. Another feature is that the box is chemically and microbiologically clean and the material is therefore suitable for all types of consumer packaging,” says Werner.
“The development process involves adjusting the types of pulp used, how to cook or grind it, and includes optimizing the machine itself. It is about finding the best possible recipes.”
Future carton packaging
Interpack in Düsseldorf, Germany is one of the world’s leading packaging fairs. Werner gave a lecture there in the summer of 2014 about how new packaging innovations can help to reduce food waste. Werner stressed the benefits of choosing cardboard materials when creating packaging and cited some of examples of Stora Enso’s future initiatives in the area.
“In addition to producing lighter and stronger materials, we focus on environmental barriers as well, i.e. the protective layer on the carton. For the Düsseldorf fair, we developed a special ‘goodie bag’ made of resource-efficient CKB from Skoghall and coated with a sugar cane-based barrier. This ‘snack pack’ contained a sandwich and fruit for fair visitors. We wanted to show a sustainable packaging solution for ‘Safe Food,’” says Werner.
The article was published in November 2014