Sustainability, consumer safety, brand emotion - the flexible packaging industry is facing multifaceted challenges. Séverine Schott, product development manager at Munksjö, explains how innovation in speciality papers plays an important role in meeting tomorrow's needs.
What is at stake in flexible packaging? This market has multiple long-term challenges to face simultaneously. When sourcing packaging materials, converters or designers must find the right balance between several constraints; produce more sustainable packaging, provide high-level functionalities, ensure maximum consumer safety and all this without compromising on shelf appeal, as the target remains to create unique consumer experience and a strong brand identity.
"Munksjö's R&D centre is working actively on innovative papers for packaging applications and is committed to meet these challenges," says Séverine Schott, product development manager, Graphics and Packaging, Munksjö.
With its wide range of speciality papers, Munksjö already meets many of the challenges in the flexible packaging market and is continuously stretching the technical limits. The development of lighter paper grades contributes to reducing the overall packaging weight. Responsible sourcing, end-of-life management through recycling, biodegradability or compostability are parameters where papers can support a sustainable packaging design approach.
Health and safety regulations are also getting stricter; in particular, for food-contact ability. In this field, paper is revealed as an extremely safe material for consumers. To substitute packaging made from non-renewable material, paper should provide the required physical protection and converting aptitudes, which is already the case today. But more importantly, depending on the end use, paper should also provide the appropriate barrier or combination of barriers for perfect shelf-life, such as oxygen, grease, moisture, aromas and many others.
"We believe that advances in paper innovation, especially on barriers, will help brand-owners to sustainably move to packaging mainly made from renewable resources," says Schott.
Munksjö is a leading speciality papers producer that offers close to 100 papers to the flexible packaging industry. Its paper range for flexible packaging spans from 26 to 200g/m², including single and double one-side coated, calendered and supercalendered, untreated and treated papers. Used for food or non-food applications, the range offers a variety of base weights, features and converting abilities to meet the most demanding end-use requirements including grease barrier, wet strength, lamination, extrusion, waxing, metallising and others.
To provide added value to customers globally, research and development is critical to success in a speciality paper company. Munksjö's research centre is ideally located in Apprieu, near Grenoble, France, a scientific environment with an exceptional pool of talent and know-how. It currently employs an experienced team of 22 people providing world-class scientific services and priceless support to customers in the implementation of joint development projects. Beside its expertise in fibres, Munksjö is also well positioned to tackle new challenges, thanks to multiple pilot capabilities, and laboratories equipped with powerful analytical instruments that produce prototypes of new paper grades and evaluate their characteristics to ensure customers of high performance along the product's life cycle.
Munksjö flexible packaging papers are produced at the Rottersac and Stenay mills in France and serve the beverage, bread and bakery, fresh and dairy, confectionery, petfood and non-food packaging industries.