BillerudKorsnäs claims alternative to plastic with ‘stretchable’ paper

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

BillerudKorsnäs creates the packaging with machiney producer, Curti
BillerudKorsnäs creates the packaging with machiney producer, Curti

Related tags Fiber

BillerudKorsnäs claims the formability of its stretchable paper gives opportunities to differentiate in packaging design and stand out on the shelf.

The firm said the 3D formable paper provides an alternative to plastic packaging.

FibreForm Packaging offers an inline form-fill-seal packaging system, called the FreeFormPack, based on the FibreForm moldable paper and the PAM/BOM forming machine.

It is a joint venture between BillerudKorsnäs, which is responsible for material development and production, and Curti who looks after machine development and production.

Differing sector needs

Armin van Overbeek said challenges of developing the system included transferring the wishes and needs from brand owners to the converting industry, which sometimes struggles to handle a new material or is not used to working with fibre based substrates.

“We tried to solve the dependency on the converting industry by taking control of the whole packaging process,” ​he told FoodProductionDaily.

Fibreform pkg 2

“Together with Curti (Italian machine producer), we developed a system existing of a highly flexible machine that produces formed fibre based containers.”

The paper can be bent and stretched and sides of the package can be macro formed – micro forming changes details of the body of the package.

Development of FibreForm started in 2007, said van Overbeek.

“The process to produce formable paper was invented by an Italian company. BillerudKorsnäs has the exclusive license globally. We produce it at our Gruvön mill in the western part of Sweden,”​ he said.

“It is a very challenging mechanical process to produce the paper which took us many trials to produce on an industrial scale.

“Since [2010] the product has been growing in several applications, it is price competitive with PET containers and we produce it on a monthly basis.”

Van Overbeek announced the European launch of FibreForm when he spoke to FPD at Emballage in 2010​, FibreForm packaging was launched in 2013.

Target market

FibreForm is produced from 100% primary softwood (pine, spruce) fibres which is needed to ensure the paper strength for the forming process, recycled fibres have too little strength left.

Applications include granulated food (sugar, salt, flower, etc), snacks, confectionery, ice cream and coffee. The FreeForm Pack and FreeForm Packaging System is not focusing on liquid foods.

Packaging form depends on the tooling, with sizes varying between 200ml and 1.5 litres in the same machine and it can be run on existing thermoforming equipmennt.

BillerudKorsnäs said since the paper can be formed in existing industrial processes (thermoforming, die-cutting/embossing, pressforming) it can replace fossil polymer content in plastic packaging (trays, blisters, sleeves, pods, containers) leading to the environmental footprint (CO2​) being about one third less than a plastic package.

Asked how it would take market share from plastics, van Overbeek said it would do this due to the unfavorable environmental impact of plastic and legislation forbidding and/or restricting its use.

“This trend will increase. Fees for fossil polymer based packages will increase and make plastics much less competitive in the future.”

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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