Stora Enso and Pulpex are joining forces to industrialize the production of bottles and containers made from wood fiber pulp.
Sohrab Kazemahvazi, senior vice president and head of Stora Enso’s formed fiber business, tells PackagingInsights the partnership aims to create competitive pricing and volumes for fiber-based bottles.
Pulpex’s scaled-up bottle production technology is “unique to the market,” says Kazemahvazi.
“Pulpex is a patented, first-of-its-kind pulp packaging solution using technical innovation to deliver eco-packaging. Our unique formed fiber technology and industrial know-how is a great match with Pulpex.”
The partnership’s focus is on developing a high-speed production line, expected to be operational in 2022.
An array of applications
Using Stora Enso’s verified-sustainable, formed fiber pulp, Pulpex will produce paper bottles for an array of global brands across various market applications, from homecare and personal care products to alcohol- and non-alcohol beverages and liquid foods.
The formed fiber product is manufactured by pressing various wood-based pulps into a three-dimensional shape in a molding machine.
The customizable Pulpex bottle also allows for embossing, labeling and colored pigments to fit brand needs and easily integrates into any packaging manufacturer’s existing filling infrastructure.
Furthermore, paper bottles offer a “significantly lower” carbon footprint compared to standard PET plastic and glass bottles, the partners maintain.
“Moreover, Pulpex packaging can be recycled in standard waste streams as you would normally recycle paper and cardboard,” adds Kazemahvazi.
Across the EU and US, only 30-40 percent of all plastic bottles are currently collected for recycling, according to Stora Enso. However, for paper and cardboard recycling, the average is nearer 80 percent, just ahead of glass and aluminum (75-80 percent).
“As global recycling rates are far higher for paper and cardboard than for plastic, pulp-based packaging has a much higher chance of actually being recycled and becoming more ‘circular,’” explains Kazemahvazi.
Much ado about paper bottles
Stora Enso reports the global beverage packaging market is worth an estimated US$117 billion and forecast to grow by 4.5 percent, reaching US$170 billion by 2027.
Leading consumer packaged goods companies, including Diageo, PepsiCo, Unilever, GSK Consumer Healthcare and Castrol, have already joined the Pulpex global partner consortium.
Each company has committed to incorporating Pulpex technology into its brand packaging and collectively aim to produce 750 million paper bottles per year.
Other paper bottle initiatives are also garnering industry attention. Coca-Cola partnered with paper bottle company Paboco to develop a recyclable paper bottle for non-alcoholic stills and sparkling drinks last October, which were later trialed in Hungary.
Paboco’s business development manager previously spoke to PackagingInsights in detail about the “stepwise” technical approach to creating the prototype. Paboco was also the driving force behind Absolut Vodka’s paper bottle launch in the UK and Sweden.
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