The next Sustainability Awards finalist under the spotlight is Papira® by Stora Enso - a wood fiber-based lightweight material offering a renewable and paper-recyclable alternative to fossil-based foams.
You’re a finalist in the Sustainability Awards 2022. Congratulations! To start off, could you summarize your entry Papira, in less than 50 words?
Papira® by Stora Enso is an innovative wood fiber-based lightweight material offering a renewable and paper-recyclable alternative to fossil-based foams. Papira® is intended for protective and cushioning applications in packaging.
Why do you think the judges were impressed with your entry? Tell us about what is innovative about your project and/or about its impact on packaging sustainability.
Papira® is a bio-based cushioning foam that changes the game for packaging.
Ensuring that brands can offer a fully renewable, bio-based and recyclable package to their customers is our objective. Offering a package in carton board is not enough, we want to replace the insides of packaging (often fossil-based foams) with a bio-based solution. Most packaging foams today are plastic. They are made from fossil-based sources, can break down to microplastics, and often suffer from a lack of recycling. With Papira®, we can ensure that the full package, inside and out, is made from bio-based, renewable materials, that are fully recyclable in currently existing recycling streams. As a material, Papira® is also biodegradable; therefore, it does not become waste or pollution even if not recycled properly. Papira® is made from sustainably sourced wood with both FSC® and PEFC™ chain-of-custody certifications.
Furthermore, the production process of Papira® is environmentally friendly; it uses fossil-free energy and does not use any solvents, hazardous chemicals or volatile organic compounds. Only water and air are used in the process.
With a steadily growing e-commerce and an increasing demand for protective packaging, something must change. Papira® enables plastic-free protective packaging for home appliances, consumer electronics, industrial products and fragile products of high value. In the future, the possibilities are endless. It is a promise to brand owners, to consumers and the whole packaging industry – we can remove fossil-based materials from the mix and provide a sustainable packaging solution. We believe this is a game changer for the entire industry.
When and how do you intend to launch/commercialize this innovation?
We are now piloting Papira at Stora Enso’s Fors mill in Sweden. The pilot plant has been operational since Q4/2021 and our ambition is to move from pilot to small scale production as development progresses in 2023.
In the meantime, however, we are continuously engaging with brand owners, converters, potential customers to generate interest for Papira®. We believe Papira® has the potential to revolutionize the entire packaging segment and therefore we are looking for like-minded forerunners and companies willing to test bio-based foams and join us on this journey, where societies at large can benefit from this innovation.
You’re shortlisted for the ‘Renewables’ category. What do you see as the key demands, challenges and opportunities in relation to renewables in packaging?
We see that there is currently both a challenge to tackle and an opportunity to seize. On one hand e-commerce is bigger than ever, but on the other hand, packages aren’t fully sustainable, they include fossil-based materials, and they can be difficult to recycle. We want to change this. We also believe companies, brands and consumers alike are interested in finding solutions that are better for the environment.
There is growing pressure for sustainable and circular solutions. These solutions should be based on renewable materials – materials that have the ability to grow back. These are materials that aren’t mined, that do not compete with food source, that are safe and do not harm the planet or contribute to the addition of waste or toxic chemicals to the planet. They are materials than can be recycled and reused, in currently existing recycling streams. Materials that perform as well as their fossil-based counterparts but are unbeatable in terms of carbon footprint. They are materials such as Papira® by Stora Enso.