Ticking boxes – cost saving packaging

Packaging Professional magazine
15 Sep 2009
Factory worker

Cost savings, sustainability and lightweighting are on all packagers’ lists. Finnish cartonboard producer M-real Consumer Packaging describes how it is trying to meet these goals.

M-real Consumer Packaging in Finland has helped frozen food company Birds Eye achieve significant savings in packaging weight across its product range, following completion of a project initiated in partnership with the UK’s WRAP. A criterion of the project was that weight reduction should not compromise stiffness and strength, vital for maintaining efficiency on the packing line and avoiding carton collapse in transit and distribution.

Birds Eye’s annual board use of 3,500t in the UK decreased by 54t (1.5%) as a result of the trial, equivalent to CO2 savings of 135-210t. The reduction was enabled by a rebuild at M-real’s Simpele Mill in Finland, allowing it to achieve high bulk and stiffness in its upgraded Simcote board.

The project concluded that selection of the board grade and weight is a balance between operational efficiency of the packaging line – particularly relevant when considering weight selection and, hence, board stiffness – and compression strength of the carton, which must be
sufficient to prevent carton collapse on route to stores. Again, the board weight and stiffness have a direct effect on the compression strength.

Specifying savings

Matthew Terry, Technical Service Manager at M-real UK, says, ‘Birds Eye had already optimised its raw materials prior to the trial and therefore dramatic savings in tonnage were not expected. But it did recognise the need to specify board by stiffness as a key indicator of [its] runnability down the packing line and through the rest of the supply chain’.

The rebuild at Simpele Mill included the installation of two new pieces of technology – a ValZone metal belt calender (developed at the site in collaboration with international machinery company Metso Corporation) and a Power Dry Plus air dryer. New reeling and winding machinery was introduced, helping to preserve the coated board’s surface properties and bulk. The rebuild also simplified the whole boardmaking process, increasing production capacity.

Overall view

'Our customers, including brand owners, cartonmakers and merchants, are all streamlining their operations and making themselves more efficient,’ says Mika Joukio, Executive Vice-President of M-real Consumer Packaging. ‘Brand owners want to reduce the amount of packaging material they use without compromising performance. They also have to respond to increasing consciousness and regulations regarding sustainability and safety.’

As a result, the company has elected to focus on a concept known as ‘LITE4U’, encompassing what it describes as lightweighting, innovation, time saving, environment, four mills and ‘unique’ offerings to customers. The tolerances of all the boards have been tightened, allowing only a variation of three per cent. This means the converting and packaging process will run at higher efficiency, resulting in clear savings and improved sustainability.

In addition, the use of BCTMP (bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp) has been developed by M-real at its Joutseno and Kaskinen Finnish pulp mills. It allows boards to be whiter than conventional folding boxboards and therefore more suitable for demanding printing. The company says BCTMP has high purity, which makes it ideal for boards such as Carta Solida that require good sensory properties for food and confectionery packaging.

Further information: M-real Consumer Packaging