Cartonboard and carton manufacturers are continuously researching new technologies to improve the sustainability and performance of cartonboard packaging and respond to the demands of the market. Here are some examples of developments that are emerging:
Non petroleum based coatings and barriers for cartonboard packaging
Moisture and grease resistant properties are vital for many types of packs, especially for food. Developments are underway in eco-friendly barrier coatings which include water-based, bio-polymers and antimicrobial compounds.
Bioboard is an EU funded initiative to develop a bio coating to replace fuel-derived plastic coatings currently used in paper and board laminates. Bio coating will be made from renewable raw materials derived from agrofood waste such as whey and residues from potato. It will aim to overcome challenges associated with recycling existing plastic laminates, while not compromising barrier properties required by paperboard packaging. New developments in aqueous barrier coatings are ideal for cartons and combined with creative constructional design, maximise the use of cartonboard and recyclability.
PlantPack is an initiative funded by the EU which aims to develop a barrier coating made from seaweed extracts and starch, which can be applied to cartonboard. It will be a biodegradable product which can be recycled and composted easily. Further developments include exploring mineralised barrier coatings. For example, an inorganic particulate such as a calcium carbonate combined with alcohol based binder as a potential low migration barrier coating.
Conductive low-cost inks
In order for printed electronics to be produced in large numbers, the conductive inks behind them need to be cost-effective. If they are not, new technologies based on organic substrates may never make it to market. The EU funded Conductive Low-Cost ink project aims to create an alternative to expensive silver based inks, as well as developing digital printing techniques to apply the inks for printed electronics applications.
Microfibrillated cellulose is a new type of renewable material which is under development. It can be used in existing and new fibre-based paper and board products and barrier materials, Potential future applications include replacing fossil-based materials such as plastics, some speciality chemicals and aluminium by producing lighter and stronger renewable packaging materials.
Foam Forming Technology in the paperboard production process
The new process of foam forming technology is being introduced into paperboard production. The water-fibre suspension is aerated with a stream of tiny bubbles which makes the paperboard structure become bulkier and lightens the board’s weight. It reduces the use of raw materials, energy and water, enhancing sustainability.