Stora Enso develops product to minimize plastic in paper cups

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

UltraThinPE Tec coatings are produced at Stora Enso’s Imatra site in Finland and Forshaga site in Sweden. Pic: Stora Enso
UltraThinPE Tec coatings are produced at Stora Enso’s Imatra site in Finland and Forshaga site in Sweden. Pic: Stora Enso

Related tags: Cups, Stora enso, Plastic, Ice cream

Stora Enso has developed UltraThinPE Tec, which the company said reduces the amount of plastic coating in foodservice board (FSB) and applications such as single-use paper cups.

Stora Enso said the technology allows for paper cup designs with less than 5% plastic, which it added helps packaging converters, brand-owners, and retailers meet their plastics reduction targets. The technology is presently used in the production of UltraThinPE coatings for Stora Enso’s Cupforma product range for paper cups.

Paperboard material used for producing paper cups requires a barrier – commonly made from plastic – that offers both protection against liquid and functionality in converting. UltraThinPE Tec is designed to improve the sustainability of paper cups by yielding the lowest plastic coating weight available on the market and reducing the overall carbon footprint of the finished product.

UltraThinPE Tec reduces plastic coating weight by up to 40% when compared to Cupforma Natura products with 15 g/m2 PE (polyethylene) or renewable PE Green coatings (bio-based polyethylene).

Achieving a plastic share of less than 5% helps brand-owners meet the composite threshold for packaging in some European countries. As a result, UltraThinPE Tec coatings can reduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) fees by as much as 75% in countries such as Germany.

FSB products with UltraThinPE Tec coatings can be recycled with paper or board depending on local regulations, collection, and sorting infrastructure. As one-sided, minimal-plastic coatings, they can also ease the recycling of FSB in standard recycling mills when combined with other paper and board packaging.

“By knowing the intended end-use of the product, like paper cups that will hold liquid for a short time, we can design coatings that use the absolute minimum material necessary. We do this by testing and verifying the exact amount needed for the end-use. UltraThinPE Tec enables brand-owners to further meet their sustainability targets, especially concerning plastics reduction, while maintaining the highest product hygiene and safety standards as in the case of paper cups,”​ said Tuomas Puonti, VP, head of business line LPB fresh & FSB.

For converters, Cupforma products with UltraThinPE Tec coatings perform similarly to materials with traditional polymer coatings. It offers barrier performance, heat sealability, and fast implementation time.

UltraThinPE Tec coatings are produced at Stora Enso’s Imatra site in Finland and Forshaga site in Sweden.

Cupforma by Stora Enso is a renewable, low-carbon material for paper cups and is optimized for recycling. It includes Cupforma Natura for foodservice end-uses, like hot cups, and Cupforma Special for end-uses like ice cream cups and ice cream packaging.

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