The statistics are jarring: Of the 6,300 million metric tons of plastic ever produced, nearly 91% has never been recycled. An estimated 12% of plastic waste has been incinerated, and the remaining 79% is littering landfills.1
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The adverse impact of over-reliance on plastics has spurred European Union parliament initiatives and global coalitions to coalesce around banning plastics, and other countries are joining in. Canada and Peru recently adopted legislation around restriction or prohibition of single-use plastics. In the United States, individual cities are also taking action — Seattle and Washington, D.C., for example, have active bans on plastic drinking straws.
All of these are steps in the right direction, but the fact remains that packaging is responsible for 40% of the demand for plastics production.2 Exploration of viable alternatives continues, but finding solutions that offer attributes similar to plastic that are also sustainable point in the direction of bioplastics.
What are Bioplastics?
Bioplastics are plastics that are made from a renewable resource (plant- and animal-based materials, etc.), plastics that are biodegradable (capable of breaking down naturally), or both. As such, bioplastics reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote sustainability — which explains the steadily growing global bioplastics packaging market, anticipated to reach nearly $16 billion dollars by 2027.3
While the robust market suggests increasingly permanence for bioplastics use worldwide, the materials are expensive and aren’t currently available on an industrial scale — both of which are stumbling blocks for OEMs including tissue converters and manufacturers. To overcome these obstacles, biodegradable plastics are being combined with other eco-friendly materials.
Finding the Balance
Extensive research and development led Körber and partnering companies to certain FSC-certified 100% biodegradable virgin papers and recycled papers as a solution. Papers ranging from 25gm2 to 40gm2 ensure maximum puncture resistance and product protection, and their coupling, lamination or extrusion to bioplastics ranging from 7- to 9-microns in thickness provide good pack sealing and an optimal moisture barrier.
Ultimately, two types of paper were developed: 100% compostable BIO paper with Vinicotte OK compost certification, and 100% recyclable and biodegradable paper. These packaging materials guarantee total sustainability when run on Körber equipment as the machines have been enhanced with a new device that allows them to seamlessly transition from poly to paper through a simple operator panel command.
Bio Pack Technical Improvement Program (TIP)
This Bio Pack kit breakthrough also compelled Körber to develop a universal solution that enables all tissue packaging equipment to wrap packs with 100% eco-friendly material and no quality issues or disruption on the line.
The Bio Pack Technical Improvement Program (TIP) works with all current machine formats, settings and any type of paper including reels combined with bioplastic material. The Bio Pack TIP is a versatile solution for all tissue converting and packaging operations, offering:
- Efficiency: TIP parts have been thoroughly tested and are already in use, ensuring efficient maintenance within the same parameters guaranteed with polyethylene operation.
- Quality: TIP packs have geometries similar to current packaging, with the added benefits of superior sealing and product protection.
- Performance: Machine speeds remain virtually unchanged between polyethylene and paper packaging.
Safeguarding the environment by making eco-friendly choices in products and technologies is everyone’s responsibility, and Körber is making it easier for tissue converting and packaging operations to embrace and protect the future. Learn more about the Bio Pack TIP, contact us.
1 National Geographic, A running list of action on plastic pollution, June 10, 2019
2 European Commission, A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, Undated
3 Plastics Today, Fast-track $4 billion bioplastics packaging market growing 14.4% yearly, April 23, 2019
Written by Eros Burelli
Eros Burelli is Customer Service Sales Manager for packaging equipment at Körber. He began his career working as a mechanical engineer, mounting and testing machines at customer plants. He’s built his global expertise by working hand in hand with customers, bringing and developing what the market needs at the Fabio Perini plant.