With the meteoric rise of e-commerce, also packaging solutions are coming up strong. Furthermore, food and beverages are being consumed on the go which magnifies the need for food service packaging. The big global brands are starting to see packaging as one key element in their over-all sustainability strategy – or, if they don't see it, their customers are sure to point it out soon enough.
Globally, the value of the total packaging market stands at USD 850 billion and the robust growth is expected to continue. What makes the field even more interesting, however, is the way biobased packaging is making advances by leaps and bounds – and those advances are made by different players, too. More often than not, these forerunners come from one place: Finland.
The Finnish forest cluster giants UPM and Stora Enso have their own solutions already out there. UPM, for instance, boasts BioVerno wood-based naphtha which can be used in bioplastics for paperboard packaging. The company's Lappeenranta biorefinery utilizes crude tall oil to make new bioplastic cartons.
Stora Enso, on the other hand, has manufactured the fibre-based, 100% recyclable EcoFishBox that is free from expanded polystyrene with minimal plastic content. The innovation won Stora Enso the World Star Sustainability Award Gold Medal in 2017.
There are other examples, too: Kotkamills has come up with ISLA Duo that is an easily recyclable cupstock based on dispersion barrier. ISLA is the winner of the NextGen Cup Challenge 2018.
Packaging innovator Huhtamäki rounds up the pack, having signed a deal to supply McDonald's with sustainable paper straws across Europe.
As usual, some of the most bleeding-edge innovation is made in universities. For example, FreshPack project at the University of Helsinki is busy at work making an active packaging solution for the growing fresh fruit and vegetable markets.
Started in September 2019, the FreshPack project evaluates potential commercialization pathways for an active packaging innovation to tackle fresh food waste. The project, funded by Business Finland, concludes in March 2021.
Mr. Jari Tielinen
Head of industry, Bio & Circular Economy
jari.tielinen (at) businessfinland.fi