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Essential consideration

Technological advances mean that building sustainability into manufacturing processes can now give converters a real competitive edge. David Longfield rounds up some of the latest news

Headquartered in Düsseldorf, leading adhesives and sealing compounds producer Henkel is at the forefront of sustainability issues in manufacturing. For the fifth year in succession, in 2011 the company was recognized as the non-durable household products sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index – the only company in this sector to be included in the indices.

At the Munich ICE expo in November 2011, Henkel unveiled its latest innovation, Liofol Fast One – the first ever laminating adhesive containing no free isocyanates. The company’s corporate technical director Georg Kinzelmann said: “With this unique one-component PUR laminating adhesive, curing is substantially reduced to just a few days, compared to up to two weeks with a conventional adhesive.”

Liofol Fast One’s characteristics enable packaging manufacturers to bundle printing, lamination and cutting in a single step, providing benefits in time savings, reduced warehousing costs and lower capital employed.

The one-component adhesive also minimises the risk of mixing ratio errors, resulting in less adhesive waste than occurs in a conventional two-component system. “Depending on the type of solvents used, another positive aspect is the possibility of re-using the solvents from the recovery system, which can be fed back directly into the production process without the need of purification,” the company says.

In addition, Liofol Fast One stays well within the specific migration limit (SML), and offers the maximum safety for both converters and consumers by being toxologically safe in terms of Risk Phrase R40.

Chic effects

As part of its Greenbox sustainable packaging initiative, US-based Diamond Packaging has utilised Henkel’s MiraFoil liquid coating technology to create the metallic effects for its new Green Chic ‘Beauty without Compromise’ range, targeting upscale brands while employing more sustainable converting methods.

Diamond’s installation in March 2011of a second Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 offset printing press provided the company with an “unprecedented combination of cost innovation and sustainability”, according to director of marketing Dennis Bacchetta. “It offers the latest in coating capabilities, including a flexo coating unit upfront, to lay down eco-friendly metallic coating effects, and a dual flexo coating unit on the end to apply UV, aqueous, or specialty coatings,” he says.

Containing highly reflective, micro-fine aluminium flakes, MiraFoil is a key component of the Green Chic packaging model, says Bacchetta, providing: “An economical, in-line alternative to film and foil laminates”.

UV curable, it can be applied to precise areas, reducing waste, improving quality and shortening lead times, Henkel says, leading to savings for manufacturers through process efficiencies, less transportation and warehousing.

Diamond’s own Cast and Cure technology, also used in Green Chic, is a cost-effective, inline process that produces high-gloss, holographic finishes through the use of UV coatings and speciality film with a micro-embossed holographic pattern.

“The goal with all of these technologies is to produce unique, decorative effects through an in-line process without requiring a separate stamping or embossing pass, thereby reducing material and energy usage,” says Bacchetta.

Paper sector points the way

Leading paper and pulp producer Sappi Fine Paper Europe has joined forces with cellulose films manufacturer Innovia Films, to bring together Sappi’s new Algro Nature paper and Innovia’s NatureFlex biofilm – a flexible, cellulose film manufactured from fully renewable wood pulp – producing the first completely bio-based, renewable, recyclable and compostable paper and bioplastics packaging that can be used for a wide variety of foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals.

“The Algro Nature/NatureFlex project aims to create a sustainable, bio-based certified EN13432 paper/film laminate, as an alternative to traditional paper/oil-based film laminates that are less friendly to the environment,” the company says. “At the same time, the laminate will also have excellent oxygen and water vapour barrier properties compared with traditional paper/film laminates, meaning that it can compete on quality as well as sustainability.”

Algro Nature is a home-compostable, one side-coated, flexible packaging paper that is fully renewable, recyclable and bio-based, yet presents the same level of quality and strength as conventional papers.

Algro Nature and NatureFlex are each certified individually as compostable materials for use in packaging. Aiming to produce the filmic components for converters to put together a structure that would already be fully certified, Sappi and Innovia are working towards combined certification for the two.

“People are becoming increasingly aware that traditional lightweight packaging materials – while they are good at what they do – are not recyclable,” says Sappi’s UK sales manager speciality papers, Richard Moyle. “This is the first step to providing a product we believe will have a much higher demand in the future.”

The Algro Nature/NatureFlex venture offers a different kind of product to fulfil end-user demand, he says. “Financially it’s probably neutral, or maybe costs a little more, but we have had a lot of enquiries about this kind of product in recent years. It’s about getting the brand owners on board.”

Sweden-based forest industry group Holmen, which includes Iggesund Paperboard, has been awarded the prize for Best Swedish Sustainability Reporting, in the ‘Large Enterprise’ category, for its report on the 2010 financial year. With the 2010 report, the group for the first time integrated the sustainability report into the annual report and subjected it to external audit.

Iggesund sustainability spokesman Staffan Sjöberg says: “The extent and the transparency of our sustainability works almost like an insurance for both converters and brand owners. When using Invercote or Incada they can sleep well at night.”

Manufactured at the integrated Iggesund mill in Sweden, Invercote is a multilayered Solid Bleached Board (SBB), made from chemical pulp produced by the sulphate pulping method and approved for food contact. Incada – widely used for book covers, greeting cards, packaging of food, cosmetics, chocolate, pharmaceuticals and tobacco products – is a multi-layered folding boxboard (FBB) produced at the company’s UK mill in Workington.

The company is currently focusing on the sustainability of its energy supply. “We are investing €360 million in our mills in Sweden and the UK, increasing efficiency and ensuring our long-term energy supply,” says Sjöberg.

“In this context it’s natural for us to move to bioenergy. In the Workington mill we are spending €120 million on a dramatic change of energy supply from all-fossil natural gas to biomass. Fossil emissions from the production of Incada will be reduced to almost zero.”

Working in partnership

Also in the paper sector, Finland’s UPM has developed the SwanBarrier paper bread bag. Made from renewable wood fibres, it is fully biodegradable or recyclable, and contains no PE-coating or fluorochemicals.

“UPM SwanBarrier papers are a completely new kind of online one-side coated barrier papers with water vapour barrier and medium grease resistance,” says UPM environmental director, paper, Päivi Rissanen. “UPM SwanBarrier light keeps the product fresh and preserves the quality and features longer than traditional bread bags, which leads to less food wasted and better product quality.”

UPM says many of its customers are highly committed to environmental issues and are actively looking for suppliers who can match their own commitment to corporate responsibility.

“At UPM we develop our products so that they offer simple and real solutions to our customer needs,” says environmental market support director John Sanderson. “We also believe that sustainability can only be achieved through co-operation. So we are keen to work in partnership with converters on environmental projects which can bring wider benefit, sharing our environmental knowledge externally and spreading best practice.”

Polyden Folien hooks up with Cardia

One of Germany’s leading flexible film specialists, Polyden Folien, has launched a range of packaging films made with partner firm Cardia Bioplastics’ Biohybrid technology, which combines renewable thermoplastics with polyethylene material.

“Our packaging products made from Cardia Biohybrid resins will form an integral part of our responsible packaging offering,” says Polyden Folien MD Peter Moser. “We are looking forward to presenting our customers the Biohybrid packaging films, in particular for shrink film applications.”

Cardia Bioplastics MD Dr Frank Glatz says: “Polyden Folien is clearly committed to sustainable development of its products. Our partnership…will enable its film customers to purchase innovative packaging products with reduced dependence on finite oil resources and a lower carbon footprint.”

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Cardia Bioplastics says it now gives customers the choice of using sustainable Biohybrid technology or its internationally certified compostable biodegradable resins range.

Novelis sets the pace

In December 2011, the world’s largest producer of aluminium rolled products issued its first sustainability report, containing a detailed analysis of the company’s fiscal year 2011 sustainability performance compared with the baseline average of fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The report sets aggressive targets for Novelis to reduce its carbon footprint as well as “those of its customers”, with a core commitment of increasing its own usage of recycled aluminium to 80% by 2020.

Other key Novelis targets for 2020 include: reducing energy usage by 39% per tonne; halving greenhouse gas emissions; curtailing water usage by 25% per tonne; and reducing landfill waste to zero.

Jon Gardner, Novelis vice president and chief sustainability officer, says: “The main two immediate priorities are resources for the future and minimizing carbon footprint. These priorities have been a key driver in developing our strategic target to increase our recycled input to 80% by 2020 from last year’s level of 33%.

“This will enable us, and our customers, to improve the environmental footprint, particularly carbon, which is a key issue for our packaging clients.”

New one-component laminating adhesive Liofol Fast One combines an extremely fast cure with a high initial bond strength Liofol Fast One Polyden Folien’s shrink films made with Cardia Biohybrid technology Polyden Sappi and Innovia Films have produced the first completely bio-based, compostable paper and bioplastics packaging suitable for
food applications Sappi and Innovia Films Diamond Packaging used Henkel’s MiraFoil for its new Green Chic luxury beauty packaging Henkel Fossil emissions from the production of Incada at Iggesund’s mill in Workington, UK, will be reduced to “almost zero” Iggesund

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