Paper, plastic, glass, wood – these and more are packaging materials that we’re all familiar with. But new advancements are always being made in material development for packaging, not least in order to move away from the use of plastics. With these new innovations come a wealth of opportunities, as well as the ability to reshape (literally) the way packaging is designed.
Take a look at 10 recent developments that are finding applications in packaging:
- Lenzing’s wood based cellulose fibres
Lenzing’s materials are made of wood at their core. From this it creates cellulose fibres which have the properties of their synthetic equivalent. The advantage of the wood-based fibres is that they are fully compostable and 100% biodegradable making it a great material for reducing the use of plastic in packaging. They make a great alternative for plastic netting for citrus fruits or other loose products.
PaperFoam’s material has all the appearance and flexibility of traditional foam and polystyrene packaging but is made from industrial starch (from potatoes and tapioca) and cellulose fibres. This makes it much more eco-friendly and sustainable than those traditional materials. The material can be moulded as required into lightweight, solid shapes which makes it ideal for use in all sorts of protective packaging scenarios.
- Isaac Monte’s Leek Paper
As the name suggests leek paper is made out of leeks. During the harvesting process, the cleaning of the leeks creates a large amount of waste product. In addition, Isaac Monte noticed that organic products are often sold in some form of packaging that may or may not biodegradable. Leek paper solves this by using the waste leek product to create paper that can then be used to wrap the vegetables in and is 100% biodegradable once the customer gets them hone. This material currently uses leeks, but there’s potential for the same process to be applied to other organic materials.
- Synprodo’s BioFoam
BioFoam is the first foam-based packaging material to come from an organic source. Mimicking polystyrene foam in appearance and properties, BioFoam is made out of biopolymers from vegetable materials. Although 100% biodegradable and able to be composted under industrial conditions, it’s a long-lasting substance that can be re-used multiple times. The ability for it to be shaped and cut, and its durability make it an ideal protective packaging material.
- Paptic Paper
This material is a potential replacement for normal paper and plastic in packaging of the future. While it is still wood fibre based, the paper has incredible stretch properties meaning it can be used like clingfilm or plastic wrapping. It is also heat-sealable, which means it can be used to make bags and wrappers. It weighs around 30% less than paper which may help in designing lighter-weight packaging. Most importantly though, it can be processed with the same production machinery as paper and plastic are now.
- Hexpol TPE’s Bio-Thermoplastic Elastomer
Hexpol has developed a series of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) compounds known as Dryflex Green. These bioplastics are made from renewable raw materials like plants and vegetables. They have the same properties as traditional TPE materials, including the ability to injection mould and extrude them. The Dryflex Green family is not biodegradable but it is fully recyclable making it a strong contender to replace plastics in future packaging.
- Favini Crush Paper
These more eco-friendly papers are made by replacing as much as 15% of the tree pulp used in their production with the by-products of organic materials. These include plants like grapes, cherries, lavender, corn, coffee, hazelnuts, almonds and more, which would previously have their process residues sent to landfill. Crush paper also contains 30% of post-consumer recycled waste to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. The paper itself has all the properties of traditional paper products.
- Favini’s Remake Leather Paper
Favini has also developed a way to make paper from the discarded residue of the leather manufacturing process. These residues replace 25% of the tree pulp that would be used in the paper’s construction, but also give it a distinct look and soft feel. This makes it ideal for luxury packaging. And once it’s done with it is 100% recyclable and compostable.
- Enkev’s Cocoform
Cocoform is a fibre-based composite material made up of 60% coconut fibres and 40% natural latex. The resulting material can be moulded into solid and complex shapes, and pressed into various thicknesses for different packaging uses. The coconut fibres give it a unique look and feel that is ideal for natural and food product packaging. Cocoform is also renewable, biodegradable and compostable.
- CKF’s Earthcycle Palm Fibre Packaging
This natural packaging material is made of 100% raw palm pulp. In the past this fibre would be incinerated or sent to landfill, but as Palm Fibre can be used as disposable and paper/carton packaging. Mouldable, the material is compostable, decomposing within 90 days, and suitable for use in packaging food products, as well as cosmetics. The material can be used in microwaves, ovens and fridges making it a flexible Option.
Which did you find most interesting? Let us know your favourites!
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends, Insider Trends, London