Sustainable solutionsAs the world is committed to reduce carbon emissions and generally deal with the problem of global warming, new and exciting ideas appear every day, in order to try and to bring more sustainability to the way we live.
Traditional packaging needs serious reconsideration. While the problem of plastic is being tackled all over, there’s still no very good options when it comes to paper and its derivatives.
Although necessary, paper is responsible for enormous water waste, energy consumption and CO2 emissions. This is where the concept sustainable packaging comes into the equation.
Sustainable Packaging: what is it?
Let’s put it this way: the world needs solutions that are profitable for the manufacturer, affordable to the consumer and that respect the environment and promote its health. More often than not, these three are interlinked, and it’s impossible to achieve true sustainability without all three being considered.
As such, new ways of improving the quality and cost of the packaging we use while reducing its impact in nature, are more than welcome. Let’s talk about paper and carboard.
To produce 1 tonne of wood pulp mix, destined to the production of paper, one uses 6000 litres of water, up to 5000 kW7h and 2.3 tonnes of wood.
Well, there’s good news: the future of paper packaging is that of sustainable packaging, and this is how.
The grass addition
Back in 2016, a German startup called Creapaper discovered that adding up 40% of grass (hay) to traditional wood pulp mix reduces dramatically the amount of water, energy and carbon dioxide emissions needed to produce paper.
The new figures become 2 litres of water, 136 kW/h and only 1.2 tonnes of hay per tonne of paper-destined pulp mix. This translates to reducing the use of water and energy in 99% and 97% respectively! Plus, no chemicals are needed to treat grass pulp, while paper production from wood alone relies on heavy use of chemicals as sodium sulphate or sodium sulphide.
Grass paper is recyclable and compostable and can be used in food packaging (e.g. for fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, etc.), dry foods (such as cereals, confectionery and baked goods) and cosmetics and pharmacy products.
What about carbon emissions?
This apparently small change allows us to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 75%. The impact of production of paper in terms of CO2 isn’t just a direct one, there’s many processes that contribute to these emissions, such as raw material transportation.
To produce regular paper, wood has to travel an average of 4000km before reaching the factory. With grass paper we can reduce this to only 100km by using locally grown material – hay, that is.