PulPac uses water reduction method to produce Dry Molded Fiber technology
14 Oct 2022 --- PulPac has implemented its Dry Molded Fiber technology to create cutlery from “almost no water” to enter existing paper-recycling streams. The company intends to replace single-use plastic with environmentally sustainable fiber-based alternatives at a low cost.
Manufacturing the utensils takes up significantly less energy and is up to ten times faster to produce compared to other fiber-forming methods, claims PulPac. Dry Molded Fiber technology aims to offer unit economics that can compete with plastics.
“In traditional fiber forming methods, water is first added and then removed. We asked ourselves if it really had to be that way – or if we could form the fibers without first adding and then removing water,” Sanna Fager, Chief Commercial Officer PulPac tells PackagingInsights.
“We invented a dry fiber forming technology that uses air, instead of water – enabling manufacturing speeds that are up to ten times faster than conventional fiber forming – and saves massive amounts of both water and energy. We also lower the CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to single-use plastics.”.
Pulpac created a Highway Application Program to speed up the transition toward fiber-based packaging and away from single-use plastics. The program was spearheaded via a research and development consortium and co-financed by Vinnova’s “Scale-up of Sustainable Industry” initiative.
The Highway Application Program uses a range of standardized and commercially validated applications ready for production by PulPac’s licensees.
The first validations confirm that the Dry Molded Fiber technology is circular into existing paper-recycling streams. The material will biodegrade if misplaced and have a climate impact of about 15%, which is only a small fraction compared to single-use plastic utensils, claims the company.
“Water is becoming a scarce resource, we should use it where we really need it. By not using water, we can also speed up the process and save energy, resulting in a much more sustainable product and a lower cost,” says Fager.
The research institute of Sweden recently presented a recyclability report and climate impact study for Dry Molded Fiber spoons. They found that spoons made from the material are biodegradable and have good recyclability. The climate impact of the spoons is 2.5 g CO2 equivalent per spoon (3.8 g each) or about 0.66 kg CO2eq per 1 kg product.
“By creating a range of standardized highly demanded products that are commercially and environmentally validated, we can help our customers speed up the transition toward sustainable fiber-based packaging and a greener, cleaner world,” continues Fager.
The fiber-based industry has been experiencing a massive uptick in businesses replacing plastics with fiber-based materials in efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based resources and advertise their carbon emissions reductions. In 2021, Innova Market Insights labeled this trend the “Fiber-based Frenzy.”
The significant climate impact in Dry Molded Fiber cutlery comes from the production of fluff pulp and tissue input materials. The actual fiber production is 7% of total the climate impact from processing.
The program already has designs ready for protective lids, coffee cup lids, cold drink lids, cutlery and trays.
PulPac’s patents PulPac has been extending its patents surrounding Dry Molded Fiber, using its technology to create plastic-reducing products such as developing 100% bio-based, plastic-and PFAS-free barriers and materials for food packaging applications.
Last month, PulPac received an intention to grant from the European Patent Office for producing discrete three-dimensional cellulose products from an air-formed cellulose blank structure in a rotary-forming mold system. The grant was used to construct its Dry Molded Fiber as a fiber-forming technology.
By Sabine Waldeck
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