Consumers are increasingly sensitive to how their purchase decisions affect the world around them. They want their actions to have a positive impact and are willing to put their money behind brands that prioritize sustainability and sustainable packaging.
Plastic is viewed by consumers as “least sustainable packaging”1, compelling tissue OEMs and converters to innovate beyond flexible plastic packaging — the long-held standard for tissue product bundling, visibility, and protection.
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Which option is right for you and your tissue products? Let’s take a closer look at these eco-friendly package material wrappings.
What is biofilm packaging?
Biofilm is a type of bioplastic, a class of biodegradable plastics that are derived from earth-friendly compostable materials such as cornstarch, sugar cane, and canola oils instead of traditional petroleum-based substances. Biofilm packaging provides the same benefits and functionality as traditional plastic flexible packaging, without the environmental hazard.
Biopolymers such as polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), and polyhydroxybutyrate-cohydroxyvalerate (PHBV) form the basis of biofilms. These biopolymers are made from plant-based starches, celluloses, proteins, and gluten.2
Depending on the biopolymer these substances are used independently or blended with other bio-based materials (such as natural rubber latex in the case of PHBVs) to create biofilm packaging that has excellent forming capabilities for many industrial applications.2
Virgin and recycled paper packaging fundamentals
Biodegradable virgin paper and recycled paper are increasingly popular materials for primary packaging. The difference between the two is nuanced but important.
Virgin paper contains no recycled materials. Recycled paper contains material from other recyclable products that was processed and reconstituted into paper. Recycled paper is often reused several times before the fibers are too short for incorporation into other products.
Both virgin and recycled paper packaging are biodegradable, meaning they will decompose over time with exposure to naturally occurring bacterias. Some are also compostable, which varies slightly from biodegradation in that compostable products require specific waste management processes. Either choice is far better for the environment versus plastics that can take centuries to disintegrate and leave potentially irreversible eco-damage in its wake.
For packaging material wrapping, virgin or recycled paper may be used. The most socially responsible paper packaging choices are those that carry Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This certification ensures that the products originate from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.
FSC-certified 100% compostable BIO paper with Vinicotte OK compost certification, and 100% recyclable and biodegradable paper developed by Valmet and partnering companies are good examples. These packaging materials guarantee total sustainability when run on any tissue packaging equipment outfitted with the Valmet BioPack Technical Improvement Program (TIP).
BioPack works with all current machine formats, settings, and any type of paper including reels combined with bioplastic material. Papers ranging from 25gm2 to 40gm2 ensure maximum puncture resistance and product protection, and their coupling, lamination, or extrusion to biofilms and other bioplastics ranging from 7- to 9-microns in thickness provide good pack sealing and an optimal moisture barrier. BioPack enables tissue converters to wrap packs in 100% eco-friendly material with no quality issues or line disruptions.
The time has come for plastic-free packaging in the tissue industry. The transition presents challenges, but also opportunities to innovate solutions for an earth-friendly future. Contact the Valmet experts to learn more about the packaging technologies and products that make a difference.
1Euromonitor, Sustainability In Global Tissue: Key Findings - Euromonitor.com, July 4, 2022
2Science Direct/Journal of Cleaner Production, Renewable and sustainable biobased materials: An assessment on biofibers, biofilms, biopolymers and biocomposites - ScienceDirect, June 10, 2020
Written by Our Tissue Team