Sustainability is increasingly a priority for consumers, this trend demands to develop new recyclable or compostable packaging. In addition, from an environmental perspective, paper is an excellent substitute for plastic packaging, but some challenges remain.
The barrier agents currently used for moisture resistant or grease proof papers, are generally made with fluorinated chemicals or other resins from petrochemicals. All organic fluorinated compounds in paper and paperboard food-contact materials are already banned in Denmark. The European Union and United States are also plowing ahead with legislation to ban such substances. In addition, these resins produce packaging that are non-compostable and difficult to recycle.
Research for the development of technologies is under way, for the formulation of new bioagents and for the development of potential applications that can meet the targeted needs. Also, studies focus on validating the recyclability of these new bioproducts.
Innofibre’s laboratories and pilot plant, which is unique in North America, are well equipped to work effectively on these issues. Indeed, the pilot surface treatment system allows the application of barrier agents on a few rolls or even a few tons of paper or board. Then the packaging conversion is ready to be made for tests under real operating conditions. To ensure that the new packaging will completely respond to the targeted properties, several properties will be analyzed, such as oxygen and water vapor permeability. Among other things, the Centre’s pilot facilities allow the recyclability test to be carried out according to current protocols. For projects which compostability is an issue, Innofibre has the device for testing according to ASTM D6868 and ASTM D6400 standards.
So far, the results achieved by the Innofibre team and its industrial partners are promising. Recyclable packaging could soon be released in our stores to help maintain or create jobs in the pulp and paper sector. As an example, we can think of thermoformed packaging which is used for fruits and vegetables as a replacement for plastic packaging.
By carrying out this work, Innofibre is consistent with its mission to contribute to the technological positioning and to Quebec pulp and paper industry sustainable development by supporting the innovation and the diversification of bioproducts and by adapting pulp and paper technologies.