Valio and Stora Enso test biocomposite in food packaging

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The reusable lids will be used to test the wood-based biocomposite in food packaging.
The reusable lids will be used to test the wood-based biocomposite in food packaging.

Related tags Valio Sustainability Stora enso storage

Finnish dairy cooperative Valio and packaging company Stora Enso are set to distribute 10,000 wood fiber-based reusable lids made from a biocomposite.

The reusable lids will be used to test the wood-based biocomposite in food packaging, and will be distributed through Valio’s promotional sales demonstrations early this year.

According to the FAO, about one third of the world’s food ends up as food waste or is thrown away each year. Valio said this generates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The company said packaging – and the lid – plays an important role in preventing food waste, as the lid protects the food during storage.

“With this pilot project we are encouraging people to take small, concrete actions to reduce food waste. The lid makes it easy to protect the unused crème fraiche or quark,”​ Jussi-Pekka Lumme, packaging development manager at Valio said.

At the same time, Valio and Stora Enso are testing how the biocomposite functions when combined with the food packaging. The lids are durable, washable and made from hygienic DuraSense by Stora Enso, a biocomposite material that combines wood fibers and polymers. The biocomposite make it possible to cut the share of plastic in various products by as much as half and thus reduce the carbon footprint.

“In 2018 we switched to fully plant-based packaging in all 250m gable-top milk, yogurt, cream, and sour milk packages. The packages are a part of our larger concept of aiming to reset milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035. We are constantly exploring new packaging innovations to test and take into use,”​ Lumme said.

Stora Enso’s Hannu Kasurinen, executive vice president, packaging materials, added, “We at Stora Enso see a strong demand for climate-friendly food packaging. The change is being driven by recognized product brands that are seeking eco-friendly solutions. We are actively developing innovative solutions that help food chains respond to consumer demands for sustainable selections.”

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1 comment

Steps forward or backward?

Posted by William Anjowski,

All should question whether this direction/innovation represents steps forward or backward. Additionally, with Stora Enso's legacy and continuing profitability linked to wood-based materials, it is no surprise to see this focus.
People should review such developments with appreciation (for the exploration and innovation using traditional wood materials), skepticism, and comparison to other options, including polyolefins derived both from petrochemicals or biomass. What is the true overall cost of production? What about the actual packaging utility? How well does it perform as lidding - stress-crack resistance, how many uses before failure, etc.? Are some of these performance aspects achieved by blending with which polymers that are petrochemical based or otherwise? Also, some benefits are really no different than currently in place with PE, PP articles - durable, washable, able to reduce food waste, etc. Visually, this iteration has none of the simplicity of design nor minimized material of a PE or PP lid, likely to overcome processing or performance issues. How easily can these be solved? How simple will it be to achieve re-use, recycling of such materials, and what resources is Stora-Enso putting toward such initiatives, in addition to developing the product? There are certainly some types of packaging today that will benefit from these developments, such as the mixed material gable-top extrusion coated board packages used around the world for milk and other beverages, with an inappropriate (but in the past, convenient) combination of paper and PE.
It's exciting to see the innovation and effort, though it needs to be further challenged from many directions. No doubt this will happen as markets are unrelenting and unforgiving toward developments that don't pass master on all aspects.

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