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Rock paper may offer packaging alternative

By Jane Byrne , 04-Feb-2009
Last updated on 04-Feb-2009 at 15:10 GMT

Limestone derived paper offers food manufacturers an environmentally responsible packaging material for a range of products, as not being sourced from timber, it helps to preserve the earth’s forests, claims its distributor.

UK based Duraflex Agency Limited, which has the rights to sell EnPlus Rock Paper into the UK and Ireland, said the material is composed of 80 per cent calcium carbonate and is bonded with high density polyethylene (HDPE). The company said it is also looking to supply the synthetic paper into other parts of Europe.

Chris Burton, managing director at Duraflex, said the packaging material does not contain any acid, alkali or bleach, making it very eco-friendly.

Disposal options

The EnPlus paper can be recycled with traditional paper or plastic recycling methods and will degrade to dust in a landfill situation within three years, he continued.

“A lot of packaging waste in the UK and Ireland continues to end up in landfill due to the fact that our waste disposal systems are not terribly sophisticated, so in that regard, this material, sourced from natural minerals, provides a much greener alternative to plastic,” enthused Burton.

Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com, he said that Duraflex is awaiting details from the Asian manufacturer on the carbon footprint of EnPlus in comparison to virgin or recycled paper but he said that it uses no water during its manufacture and also low consumption of energy per tonne produced.

Food sector applications

The high tech paper, he continued, is suitable for food packaging applications such as cartons, sandwiches wedges, sleeves and labels and has the advantage of being able to print and fold like paper while offering a performance level nearly on par with plastic.

Of course, its not as rigid as a lot of plastics, so we certainly do not envisage it replacing plastic in all food applications, but the fact that EnPlus can fold and crease well, that it is waterproof and offers excellent moisture barrier properties means that it will enable us to carve out a niche in the sector,” said Burton.

Developmental projects

He revealed that the company is currently working in close partnership with packaging consultant, Dr George Kellie of Kellie Solutions, with the goal of using EnPlus to replace laminated board and coated paper in frozen food packaging.

The rock paper is receiving a very positive response in the marketplace and trials on the material are currently underway with a number of food manufacturers in the UK, added Burton.

He said that the result of this testing phase is imminent, and, out of which, the company is expecting demand for the product to grow rapidly, in particular from food companies seeking to boost their green credentials.

“The material has been in the developmental stage for about four years,” said Burton. “And the market has now really woken up to its potential and importance.”

Costs

In terms of cost, he said EnPlus is more expensive than paper, but that it can compete in terms of price with coated or laminated paper packaging and is more affordable than plastic packaging options.

Duraflex, whose customer based includes the PaperLynx Group and Huhtamaki, said it expects its turnover to top £3m (€3.35m) this year.

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