Plastic plus paper: How sustainable are material combinations?
Wipak Walsrode GmbH & Co. KG2012-10-12 11:47
When does it make sense to use composite materials? How sustainable are composite solutions and what are their effects on the environment? Answers to these questions are provided by means of Life Cycle Impact Assessment-study (LCA) the results of which are presented by Wipak at Scanpack.
Considering energy consumption, ozone formation or global warming – material combinations based on paper and plastics can be more sustainable than pure plastic solutions. On behalf of Wipak, the sustainability experts of PE International have compared film packages based on composite paper solutions with different amounts of paper in the lidding film and in the tray film. Plastic packages frequently used in Germany for sausage and cheese were taken as reference packages. Functions such as reclosing or barrier were identical in both groups.
The result: The use of paper in general has a positive impact on the reduction of carbon emissions. This means that the influence on the greenhouse effect is smaller than it is for the reference systems made of pure plastic. In addition, considerable improvements were found in terms of ozone formation, i.e. the reduction of summer smog.
Paper does not fully replace plastics
“There is however no silver bullet”, Dr. Annett Kaeding-Koppers, the Wiipak Group’s Sustainability Representative, emphasizes. “Paper will not fully replace plastics since it does not meet the demanding requirements in terms of ideal product protection. The ideal material mix in every single case depends on the food product to be packages and on the functionality that a package is expected to offer.”
New marketing strategies
While composite paper systems are still a nice solution, their market share is growing constantly. Paper composites offer new possibilities for differentiation at the POS. Knowing exactly how sustainable a package really is helps companies to set themselves apart from the competition and to credibly communicate to the consumers.
For additional information please visit: www.wipak.com
Astrid Reinke, Phone +49 5161-44 2047, Fax +49 5161-44 142047
The LCIA study
PE International compared standard packages with composite paper solutions and analysed their environmental impact. Using five ecological categories (greenhouse effect/global warming, energy consumption, eutrophication, acidification, and ozone), the experts examined the impact of raw materials, the manufacturing of paper and film, their common processing as well as waste treatment. The data relates to the German market. The functionalities of the compared sample packages were identical. Process steps such as food production, packaging, transport or storage at the customer have not been investigated.