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The European paper and board sector is an area that can characterised by innovation and development as much as it can be by restructuring and industry consolidation. Tim Sheahan looks at some of the biggest product launches in recent months

New research from Smithers Pira has valued the global market for food contact paper and board at
more than $53 billion (€41 billion) with the sector set to hit the $70 billion mark by 2017. Growth in markets such as food and
drinks, among others, has catalysed a swathe of innovation in the paper and board sector. Here we take a look at some of the latest developments from suppliers such as Metsä Board, Sappi and Stora Enso.

Metsä enhances board range with Avanta Prima, Simcote and Carta Elega additions
Metsä Board has made "major enhancements" to its Avanta Prima, Simcote and Carta Elega folding boxboards, following technical improvements made at its mills during the company’s 2011-12 investment programme.

The product enhancements are said to improve the suitability of each cartonboard type for a particular packaging application such as food, beautycare, healthcare or luxury packaging and graphics.

"Developments include better yield, optimised shades and improved surfaces, according to the requirements of each end-use," says Pasi Piiparinen, head of Metsä Board Paperboard. "We are responding to customer needs by making our world class boards even more fit for purpose."

Avanta Prima (healthcare market) and Simcote (food) both now have improved bulk, meaning the same thickness and stiffness can be maintained while achieving a lighter weight or improved yield. Grammages in each case have been lightweighted across the range.

Avanta Prima’s surface has now been optimised to allow for 2D data matrix coding, and its shade has been optimised to enhance
visual whiteness.

The shade of Carta Elega has also been optimised to enhance visual whiteness – "an important characteristic in the beautycare
market". According to the company, the enhanced board range can be ordered from mid-May, with availability from June 2013.

Primera Vintage Paper unveils wine labelling material
Specialist colour label printer manufacturer Primera is introducing a new Vintage Paper Material for inkjet printing, specially designed
for the company’s LX-Series colour label printers.

While the US-headquartered company already has a range of standard sizes available in the US, the new material will be unveiled to the wine trade at the London International Wine Fair 2013 in London this month.

The new Vintage Paper Material has a plain paper surface, a water-soluble glue and an unbleached liner. While the new material can be described as biodegradable, the company says, its composition does mean that it is not waterproof.

"But customers who have seen the product so far have observed that the print looks beautiful, and it is a ‘green’ label, so we are positive it will become a great seller this year," says Primera Technology Europe marketing manager, Monika Fricke.

Combined with its LX-Series colour printers, the new Vintage Paper Material provides wine producers or bottlers with a cost-effective system for producing labels in full colour for short runs or bespoke bottlings, Primera says.

"The printed quality and appearance of wine labels is extremely important," the company says."The quality of the wine needs to be reflected by the labels used. Providing a professional appearance on packages can easily make the difference between a wine selling well or simply sitting on the shelf."

Teijin: recycled PET bottles produce wet-strong printing paper
Japanese company Teijin has developed a water-resistant, wet-strong printing paper made entirely with the company’s ECOPET
recycled polyester fibre, derived from used PET bottles.

As a polyester material, the printing paper is said to be "highly water-resistant" compared with conventional pulp-derived paper and "not easily torn when wet", meaning it is well suited to use in outdoor or wet locations.

Potential applications include hazard maps, triage tags and other outdoor or disaster supplies, outdoor posters, recording papers,
and labels and price tags for fresh or frozen foods.

"The new printing paper is as thin as conventional printing paper, so it can be used normally in regular laser printers with no need for manual feed," Teijin says.

The new paper – developed in collaboration with Nisshinbo Postal Chemical Co – is said to enable easy scoring, gluing and writing with pens or pencils, "unlike conventional water-resistant printing paper made of film".

"As a wet laid nonwoven fabric made with the same method as machine-made Japanese paper, it offers levels of flexibility and texture not achievable with film-based printing paper," the company adds.

Stora Enso introduces Ecoboard Plus recycled linerboard
The fourth board brand to be produced at Stora Enso’s Barcelona mill, complementing three Triplex brands, Ecoboard Plus will be
produced to serve especially southern and western European markets.

It can be used as the liner (surface) of e or f-sized microflute board, with "numerous" suitable end uses ranging from bag-in-box wine
packages to durable boxes for toys or different electric or electronic devices.

"Our new board has already been tested by a few customers, and the results are promising," says Juan Torras, Stora Enso sales director for Spain and Portugal. "Ecoboard Plus has a higher brightness and whiteness than other boards produced at the Barcelona Mill, and it is a truly sustainable alternative for packaging."

Market needs forced the company to rethink, Torras adds, to develop a high quality product aiming to comply with its mission to be an environmentally friendly board producer.

In 2011 Stora Enso’s Barcelona mill received an award from the European Union for its recycling plant, which is able to fully recover all materials used in beverage cartons, including the fibre, plastics and aluminium.

The mill has a certified FSC Chain-of-Custody system and can deliver FSC-certified products, including Ecoboard Plus.

With its current capacity of 170,000 tonnes per annum, and a workforce of about 250 people, the Barcelona mill is said to be the
largest White Lined Chipboard (WLC) producing mill in Spain, and the leader in sales in the home market.