Submitted: The Two Sides Team August 22, 2012
As trendsetters such as Walmart have shown, working with suppliers to create sustainable packaging is vital for retailers and manufacturers looking to reduce input, transport, storage, and disposal costs, as well as promote their concern for the environment to consumers. The issue of disposal difficulties with many non-renewable materials has only served to heighten interest in this field and accelerate adoption of sustainable packaging.
August 21 2012
Paper Film & Foil Converter
As trendsetters such as Walmart have shown, working with suppliers to create sustainable packaging is
vital for retailers and manufacturers looking to reduce input,
transport, storage, and disposal costs, as well as promote their concern
for the environment to consumers. The issue of disposal difficulties
with many non-renewable materials has only served to heighten interest
in this field and accelerate adoption of sustainable packaging.
According to a 2011 DuPont
global survey of consumer packaged goods companies and packaging
converters, sustainability is the top challenge facing the global
packaging industry. Of the almost 500 packaging professionals surveyed,
39% cited sustainability as the No. 1 issue, followed by 33% citing
cost. Of the survey respondents working on sustainable packaging, 65%
said their focus was on design for recyclability or use of recycled
with sustainability as their mantra, packaging developers are expanding
the possibilities available with advanced, economical molded fiber
packaging applications. As a result, more and more retailers,
manufacturers, and consumers in markets ranging from the wine and candle
industries to health and beauty to consumer electronics are adopting
sustainable molded fiber packaging. Today, molded fibers packaging
capabilities range from shipping wine bottles and retail packaging for
cosmetics to protective packs for jarred candles, cushions for
computers, and inserts for mobile phones.
NEWSPAPER AND WATER
fiber packaging is made from 100% recycled newspaper, made into a
slurry with water, and converted into custom packaging after it is
vacuum formed on screened molds. Because it is made entirely from
recycled paper and water, molded fiber packaging is 100% recyclable,
biodegradable, and sustainable. This reduces input and disposal costs
compared to less recyclable, petroleum-based materials.
molded fiber packaging can be placed in curbside recycling with
newspaper or paper products. In some cases, flower or herb seeds can be
embedded within the packaging. In these cases, consumers can soak the
packaging in water, plant it in their gardens, and have the plants grow.
fibers natural resilience and its blocking and bracing capabilities
enable it to perform as well as most vacuum-formed plastic, expanded
polystyrene (EPS), and corrugated designs. Not only is molded fiber
packaging often less costly than EPS or other foam products, it also
requires less space to ship and store, so it frequently reduces
transport and storage costs.
the demand for recycled packaging has been growing for years, molded
fiber traditionally has been associated with items like box inserts, cup
carrying trays, and egg carton packaging that had limited consumer
however, some packaging industry providers have added specialty
equipment and techniques that have significantly expanded the
capabilities of traditional molded-fiber packaging. For instance, UFP Technologies,
Georgetown, MA, a custom converter of molded fiber in the US for more
than 20 years, has added high tonnage presses capable of producing
after-pressed parts with more aesthetic appeal than traditionally formed
When Philips Consumer Lifestyle, a business unit of Royal Philips Electronics,
the global diversified health and well being company, chose molded
fiber, the goal was to align the packaging with its EcoVision5 corporate
sustainability target to double global collection, recycling amounts,
and recycled materials in products by 2015 compared to 2009.
Philips Consumer Lifestyle previously packed large protective PET blisters inside retail cartons for Norelco shavers and Sonicare toothbrushes.
The change to smaller PET blisters combined with protective molded
fiber packaging has improved sustainability and branding and reduced
molded-fiber packaging is made from 100% recycled newsprint, so its a
more renewable, environmentally friendly material than petroleum-based
plastics, says Jeff Wood, senior commodity manager for Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Packaging and Print.
from large to small PET blisters, along with custom protective
molded-fiber packaging from UFP Technologies, has reduced our use of
plastic packaging content by 75% and saved hundreds of thousands of
dollars in material costs, adds Wood. According to Wood, after-press
operations provide a smooth, precise finish to the molded-fiber,
improving the aesthetic and the out of the box experience of the
most molded fiber manufacturers, UFP Technologies is not limited to the
production of standard end caps, trays, and box inserts. Its
after-press capabilities allow for a smooth finish on two sides and the
ability in manufacturing to hold a designs tolerance much more closely.
This enables the creation of retail friendly packaging options like folding cartons and clamshells with high aesthetic appeal that conveys a sustainable cachet.
Using color to accentuate branding is possible, as was done when dark purple was added to molded fiber trays for the BlackBerry smart
phone. (When the material is in its pulp stage, it is a light gray
color. Dye can be added to match a customers desired color. Because the
dye is food safe, it biodegrades with the product; there is no
de-inking process needed prior to recycling.) Other packaging
applications that have fueled growth have been after-pressed trays,
clamshells, and inserts featuring not only color but clearly embossed
molded fiber packaging is winning awards and promoting the
environmental concern and image of the manufacturers who use it.
for instance, Grafcor Packaging, a Rockford, IL-based designer,
developer, manufacturer, and distributor of packaging materials for the
food, beverage, healthcare, and beauty markets, won a prestigious
packaging award, the Ameristar, in the Beverage category for a unique 12-bottle molded fiber wine shipper that passed UPS and FedEx tests.
create a wine shipper that combines the sustainable, protective
cushioning of molded fiber with the tough, vibration resistance of
corrugated, Grafcor Packaging partnered with UFP Technologies. The wine
shipper, called Bottoms Up, allows wine bottles to be safely shipped
cork down to prevent cork drying (which prevents oxygen entry to the
Unlike bulky, petroleum-based EPS, molded fiber is completely sustainable, recyclable, and biodegradable, says Bill Hall,
owner of Grafcor Packaging. Because the molded fiber ships at about a
4:1 ratio by truckload compared to EPS, it also can save in transport
and storage costs.
working with thin-walled custom molded fiber, getting the depth of the
draw and the size of the part right was challenging, and we wouldnt
have succeeded without engineering and production help from UFP
Technologies, says Hall. Their willingness to ramp up production in
late October, in the midst of the busy holiday season, also helped us to
meet strong demand in the marketplace.
on the success of the molded fiber wine shipper, Grafcor Packaging is
adapting designs to ship beer, spirits, and coffee syrup, which often
must protect glass bottles from breakage.
of molded fibers sustainability, unique look, and environmental cachet
among consumers, Hall also thinks that the material would work with
health and beauty applications. He sees molded fibers applications
expanding to include folding cartons or clamshells that use
after-pressing for a smooth finish, and embossed logos for enhanced
manufacturers, and consumers are responding to molded fibers
sustainability and unique look, concludes Hall. Its craft fiber
appearance accentuates the fact that its made from 100% recycled paper.
With the help of custom developers like UFP Technologies, whats
possible is expanding to the point where everyone should take a look.