“Bending the laws of physics”: PulPac and PA Consulting create Bottle Collective
27 Feb 2023 --- PA Consulting (PA) and PulPac have launched the Bottle Collective, a joint project to showcase PulPac’s fiber bottle made from Dry Molded Fiber technology, designed help minimize the use of single-use plastic bottles.
The Bottle Collective is committed to industrializing a recyclable, high-speed, low-cost Dry Molded Fiber bottle process. The companies aim to replace plastic bottles for multiple products and categories due to their environmentally damaging characteristics.
“The purpose and mission are creating a lower footprint bottle alternative than single-use plastics, glass and other materials,” Tony Perrotta, PulPac partnership lead at PA Consulting, tells PackagingInsights.
“The stakes are incredibly high and quite critical – [environmental] sustainability efforts are a global need and this collective will help further the changes necessary to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
PA’s mechanical engineering, design, automation and material sciences teams and PulPac have developed the first functioning prototypes. Multiple brand partners have joined the collective to continue growing and scaling fiber bottles to release them by 2025.
The companies state that fiber bottles could work with water, dairy, non-carbonated soft drinks, adult beverages, detergent, skincare, hair care and other appliances. The bottle’s shape, size and decoration capability also allow for the full expression of a brand’s equity.
“Our focus is showcasing a bottle that works technically, works for each brand’s ethos and needs, and works at the commercial speed, scale and cost expected from this market,” says Perrotta.
He continues that the companies’ approach using a collective is “unique.” Perrotta believes it allows multiple parties across the value chain to contribute to solving a massive global challenge, plastic pollution.
“PulPac brings the foundational Dry Molded Fiber technology, while PA Consulting has an 80-year legacy as an innovation consultancy bringing ingenuity to life. Companies involved in the collective will benefit from accelerated learning and new growth.”
Targeting Plastic pollution
PulPac states its Dry Molded Fiber technology can have a notable positive impact on reducing today’s single-use plastic pollution. The company believes the bottle will minimize the use of plastics in F&B, consumer health and the FMCG industries.
Sanna Fager, chief commercial officer at PulPac, says: “Plastic bottles are the holy grail of plastic replacement. They have an estimated annual production volume of up to 500 billion pieces and are a significant source of plastic pollution worldwide.”
“We are proud to share some of our patent-protected advances with PA Consulting, combining Dry Molded Fibers’ forming versatility, broad barrier applicability and high production efficiency.”
Fager continues that the bottles are backed by strong partnerships across the value chain, allowing the Collective to bring competitive unit cost into the fiber-bottle space, “enabling the shift away from today’s single-use plastic. We encourage all brands and relevant industry actors to join this force for sustainable change.”
Lost-cost cellulose resources
PulPac’s Dry Molded Fiber uses renewable pulp and cellulose resources to produce lo w-cost, high-performance fiber-based packaging. The process uses less CO2 than plastic and conventional wet molding options, with almost no water used in manufacturing.
“Creating a Dry Molded Fiber bottle already bends the laws of physics. We are building in the ability to customize shape, design and decoration options – these are all individually quite complex challenges that we have overcome,” asserts Perrotta.
The process uses one-third of water compared to a wet molded pulp. The raw materials are obtained from a renewable source, potentially using waste stream materials as input material. No energy is required for drying, creating no wastewater and a low manufacturing waste due to the reuse of fibers.
At the product’s end of life, it can be recycled in the paper waste stream and its waste fibers are recycled back through the process.
“We have the technology. We have a functioning prototype and process. We are now ready to enter the next stage – to demonstrate that our Dry Molded Fiber bottles can be produced at the speed, volume, and cost necessary to match the massive scale of this global industry challenge,” Perrotta concludes.
By Sabine Waldeck
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