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09 Nov 2023

Research Centre in Finland announces advancements for its cellulose-based food packaging solution

Research Centre in Finland announces advancements for its cellulose-based food packaging solution

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has announced that they have discovered a way to increase the limits of their extensible formable cellulose for rigid packaging applications. This means that the 3D packaging solution will now be available to a wider range of food products, through becoming deeper during the manufacturing process.

Previously companies have only been able to produce cellulose-based packaging which has around 3 and 6% extensibility, with the best commercial formable boards reaching 10 to 18% extensibility. However, the research centre has recently had an innovative breakthrough, and has discovered that through using foam forming technology, the extensibility rate is able to reach a new maximum of 30%. This improvement means that food brands who deal with products such as cold cuts, will be able to increase the cardboard-like package size from 75g to a maximum of 250g. This can be easily done through adjusting the formation process of the tray’s dimensions, allowing larger packages to be produced.

The Research Team Leader at VTT, Jarmo Kouko, commented, “Polypropylene film is one of the world’s most used polymers — its extensibility is up to 300%. Our invention now offers a viable, sustainable alternative on the market. We’re extremely excited and proud of the results we’ve produced in our pilot-scale study, which clearly shows the commercial potential of our rigid cellulose-based packaging. In industries that use huge amounts of plastic like the food packaging sector, we can find plenty of opportunities to reduce the use of fossil fuel-based materials and replace them with sustainable ones that take us closer to carbon-neutral societies of the future and allow us to be more frugal with natural resources.”

This study was conducted as part of a research program, held between VTT and 54 companies, plus the Regional Council of Central Finland. The program has been focused solely on researching and experimenting with new ways to find alternative materials to replace plastic products, then proceeding to scale-up these findings, to make them commercially available on the market to the consumers. This development is a serious improvement to the packaging industry, as it is beginning to pave the way towards a greener and more sustainable economy, through its cellulose-based food packaging solution, which is clearly a green product, produced from a green manufacturing process.

The VTT team will be showcasing their groundbreaking research at The Greener Manufacturing Show 2023 in Cologne, Germany, from 8-9 November.

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