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Ship your bottles in newspaper and water

With sustainability being a new driving force in industry, packaging developers are expanding the possibilities and accelerating the adoption of advanced molded fibre for shipping bottles and other fragile products, reports Del Williams, a technical writer based in Torrance, California

As Walmart has shown, working with suppliers to create sustainable packaging is vital for retailers and manufacturers looking to reduce input, transport, storage, and disposal costs, as well as promote their concern for the environment to consumers.  The issue of disposal difficulties with many non-renewable materials has only served to heighten interest in this field and accelerate adoption of sustainable packaging.

According to a 2011 DuPont global survey of consumer packaged goods companies and packaging converters, sustainability is the top challenge facing the global packaging industry.  Thirty-nine percent of the almost 500 packaging professionals surveyed cited sustainability as the number one issue, followed by 33% citing cost.  Of the survey respondents working on sustainable packaging, 65% said their focus was on design for recyclability or use of recycled content.

Fortunately, with sustainability as their mantra, packaging developers are expanding the possibilities available with advanced, economical molded fibre packaging applications.  As a result, more and more retailers, manufacturers, and consumers in markets ranging from the wine and candle industries to health & beauty to consumer electronics are adopting sustainable molded fibre packaging.

Newspaper and water
Molded fibre packaging is made from 100% recycled newspaper, made into a slurry with water, and converted into custom packaging after it is vacuum formed on screened molds.  Because it is made entirely from recycled paper and water, molded fibre packaging is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, and sustainable.  This reduces input and disposal costs compared to less recyclable, petroleum-based materials. 

Molded fibre’s natural resilience and its blocking and bracing capabilities enable it to perform as well as most vacuum-formed plastic, expanded polystyrene (EPS), and corrugated designs.  Not only is molded fibre packaging often less costly than EPS or other foam products but also it requires less space to ship and store, so it frequently reduces transport and storage costs.

Although the demand for recycled packaging has been growing for years, molded fibre has traditionally been associated with items like box inserts, cup carrying trays, and egg carton packaging that had limited consumer appeal.

Recently, however, some packaging industry providers have added specialty equipment and techniques that have significantly expanded the capabilities of traditional molded-fibre packaging.  For instance, UFP Technologies, the largest custom converter of molded fibre in the US for over 20 years, has added high tonnage presses, capable of producing after-pressed parts with more aesthetic appeal than traditionally formed molded fibre.

When Philips Consumer Lifestyle, a business unit of Royal Philips Electronics, the global diversified health and well being company, chose molded fibre, the goal was to align the packaging with its EcoVison5 corporate sustainability target to “double global collection, recycling amounts and recycled materials in products by 2015 compared to 2009.”

Philips Consumer Lifestyle previously packed large protective PET blisters inside retail cartons for Norelco shavers and Sonicare toothbrushes. The change to smaller PET blisters combined with protective molded fibre packaging has improved sustainability and branding and reduced costs.

“The molded-fibre packaging is made from 100% recycled newsprint, so it’s a more renewable, environmentally friendly material than petroleum-based plastics,” says Jeff Wood, senior commodity manager for Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Packaging and Print.

“Switching from large to small PET blisters, along with custom protective molded-fibre packaging from UFP Technologies, has reduced our use of plastic packaging content by 75%  and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in material costs,” adds Wood. According to Wood, after-press operations provide a smooth, precise finish to the molded-fibre, improving the aesthetic and the “out of the box” experience of the consumer.

Unlike most molded fibre manufacturers, UFP Technologies is not limited to the production of standard end caps, trays, and box inserts.  Its after-press capabilities allow for a smooth finish on two sides and the ability in manufacturing to hold a design’s tolerance much more closely.  This enables the creation of retail friendly packaging options like folding cartons and clamshells with high aesthetic appeal that conveys a sustainable cachet.

Retailers, manufacturers, and consumers are responding to molded fibre’s sustainability and unique look; its craft-fibre appearance accentuates the fact that it’s made from 100%  recycled paper.  With the help of custom developers like UFP Technologies, what is possible is expanding to the point where everyone should take a look.

For more info, phone 877-868-0176; email, visit; or write to UFP Technologies Inc. at 172 E. Main Street, Georgetown, MA  01833





1 August 2012 - Felicity Murray