Swedish premium paperboard company Holmen Iggesund has established Future Packaging, a new department working with value chain representatives to develop packaging with new fibre-based concepts.
The new department comprises dedicated specialists with various capabilities and expertise in multiple segments, such as cosmetics, food and electronics, and people who understand how OEMs and converters work. Where necessary, expertise in tooling, die-cutting and barriers will be brought in.
Holmen Iggesund director of the Future Packaging division Hein van den Reek said, “We see that brand owners are looking for new ways of packaging. They want their packaging to be more sustainable. One way to do that is to replace fossil materials like plastics.
“We see it as an obligation to help them. To do this, we need to be closer to the brands, we need to understand what they are doing – and also understand the whole value chain so we can offer brands innovative solutions that meet their needs.
“If the brand, the machine makers, the material suppliers and the designers work together, your path to market shortens enormously. Brands have business targets to find sustainable materials and need to meet their consumers’ demands.
“We want to offer them that route in a structured way. We will help them find the right converters and the right machines to make their dreams feasible.”
To show brands how this collaborative approach can speed up the process, Holmen Iggesund has already developed prototype solutions with external partners.
In 2021, it developed Conic, a wood-based formable premium packaging for the cosmetics industry. And now, Holmen Iggesund and its partners have produced the chocolate box Choco.
Made entirely from renewable materials, the chocolate box consists of an outer box and an insert tray, with various cavities at different levels for individual chocolate pieces.
The insert tray is made from Mouldable, a product with a much lower CO2 footprint than its plastic predecessor. According to Holmen Iggesund, replacing plastic trays with Mouldable lowered the CO2 footprint by 90 per cent in raw material.
The box was developed through collaboration with Austrian converter Goerner Formpack, HP Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solutions, and Sweden-based Future Lab and Partners.
The outer box is made with Holmen Iggesund’s Invercote Creato 400 board. The insert tray is made by Goerner Formpack through its wet moulding process using Holmen Iggesund’s Imould material, a food-safe material that consists of long and short virgin fibres.
Van den Reek added, “Today, most chocolate boxes contain plastic trays. But our prototype shows that we can completely substitute plastic with renewable materials and still have something that’s a beautiful design using different shaping techniques. And, of course, we could do this for cosmetics, electronics and many other applications.”
Goerner Formpack managing director Elisabeth Goerner commented, “We all need packaging, but we have to think about what kind of packaging we use, where it comes from and where the end-of-life cycle is, which we believe should be ongoing.
“Our main driver for the project was to develop a pulp tray for direct food contact that would remove single-use plastic from customers’ packaging departments.”
Holmen Iggesund specifically brought tool maker HP in on the Choco box project. HP used 3D printing to make the wet moulding tool that Goerner Formpack used to make the chocolate box insert tray.
Van den Reek said, “3D printing is a new way of working with tooling. It’s important because it can be more cost-effective and sustainable than using traditional tools. By making the wet moulding tool for the Choco box this way, we are showing that the industry is looking ahead.”
HP is focused on delivering technology that accelerates the transition from single-use plastic to sustainable solutions like moulded fibre.
HP Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solutions business development and sales lead for EMEA Dick Huizinga added, “With the packaging material transition in front of us, we need all partners in the value chain to create and support developments to enhance the capabilities and performance of the moulded fibre industry.
“Fibre packaging will see huge growth over the coming years as the use of plastic decreases. And the major players in the pulp and paper industry like Holmen Iggesund and the premium brands need to cooperate to enable the plastic packaging conversion.”
The new Future Packaging department is using prototypes like Conic and the Choco box to show how solutions that can be applied to many different industries can be achieved through collaboration.
Van den Reek concluded, “We want to make the packaging world better and make meaningful, purposeful packages that don’t pollute and can be recycled. We are willing to listen and develop concepts together. And we will keep developing new prototypes to show that we understand what our customers deal with.”