Towards a plastic-free world
Towards a plastic-free world
October 22, 2019
If global plastic consumption continues at the current rate, the volume of plastic in nature and landfills could amount to 12 billion tons by 2025 – a worrying statistic that needs an innovative and immediate response. Kotkamills’ plastic-free AEGLE folding boxboards and ISLA food service boards are examples of a solution as products made with them can be recycled with paper or board recycling streams, in doing so leaving no plastic waste
Plastic consumption has increased dramatically since the early 1950s. According to a comprehensive study published in the journal Science Advances in 2017, the total volume of plastic produced worldwide from 1950 to 2015 exceeded 8.3 billion tons. With the annual volume of plastic production amounting to some 400 million tons, the 10 billion ton limit might very well be broken this year.
It was estimated that over three quarters of the total volume of plastic used by 2015 was waste. Most of the plastic waste that ends up in waterways originates from single-use products, such as plastic bags and packaging.
Much of the plastic pollution that accumulates in nature could be avoided by replacing the plastic films traditionally used in cartonboard packages with recyclable plastic-free barrier material.
Kotkamills has responded to the plastics challenge by developing barrier board produced online with water-based dispersions. AEGLE Barrier boards can be used in fast-food and frozen-food packages replacing plastic-coated board. Made of virgin fiber, AEGLE Barrier products meet the strictest hygiene requirements.
“AEGLE Barrier products create a plastic-free, recyclable product line of folding boxboard that has high grease- and moisture-resistance and can be converted on existing production lines,” said Eveliina Lukkarinen, head of Technical Customer Service at Kotkamills. “In addition to barrier properties on one side of the carton, the other side of AEGLE Barrier board offers excellent print quality.”
The AEGLE Barrier line includes two product versions: Light and Plus. True to its name, AEGLE Barrier Light comes with a lighter barrier and is suited especially for fast-food products that are consumed soon after the purchase. “The AEGLE Barrier Plus board, in turn, has a higher barrier content, resisting moisture and grease for longer,” added Lukkarinen. “It is designed for frozen foods and products that are exposed to grease for longer [periods of] time, such as bakery products.”
AEGLE Barrier grades are standard products that have been commercially available since early 2018. “We will offer more barrier boards, featuring different properties, in the future, but these two products alone can help considerably reduce the use of plastic in many groups of mass products,” confirmed Lukkarinen.
According to Markku Korhonen, sales manager of ParoPrint, a manufacturer of packaging for the fast-food, bakery and food industries, a plastic-free alternative for fast-food packaging is both an environmental choice and a competitive advantage for companies. “A few years ago, I heard that Kotkamills was developing plastic-free barrier boards,” recalled Korhonen. “Right at that time, plastic became a hot issue. It wasn’t difficult to jump on the bandwagon when the AEGLE Barrier boards entered the market. ‘Zero plastic’ has been a good argument when we have approached new customers.”
ParoPrint has focused on the product development and production of takeaway packages, such as those used for popcorn, sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers and chips, as well as bakery product packages. “The demand for moisture- and grease-resistant, plastic-free packages has clearly increased,” reported Korhonen. “Kotkamills’ new barrier board has enabled us to eliminate plastic from some of our products in one go, without compromising on the properties of the packages.”
According to Korhonen, plastic-free barrier boards can be produced on traditional production lines. “If fast-food restaurants on a wide front replaced their present board materials with plastic-free alternatives, this would reduce plastic use significantly,” he added.
Hesburger has long opted for biodegradable, plastic-free packaging material in its restaurants, where possible. It took one more step in the right direction when it chose Kotkamills’ AEGLE Barrier board for its tortilla, nugget and salad packages. “We continue to make our activities more ecological, and this is a great step towards reducing plastic,” said Heini Santos, communications manager at Hesburger. “Plastic-free board is competitively priced and does not require special measures from our suppliers.”
The thickness of the board was adjusted slightly, based on feedback from the staff, when the packages were tested. The board used for nugget and tortilla boxes holds a certificate for biodegradability, and these boxes display in large letters ‘I am made of Finnish biodegradable board’.
“Our staff at the pilot restaurants were positive about the new boxes,” suggested Santos. “We are now ready to spread the use of the packages to all our restaurants in Finland.”
“New biodegradable boxes will be launched in our restaurants in the Baltic countries,” revealed says Eeva Mäki, product development manager at Hesburger. “Plastic-free alternatives are also of great interest in Russia.”
Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2020 will take place at Cologne Messe, Germany, on Tuesday 16 June and Wednesday 17 June. To register for this highly focused, solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org