Developing a low cost approach to producing sustainable packaging
Single-use plastics offer consumers incredible convenience and portability. However, they also drown landfills in waste, leach chemicals into land and waterways and find their way into the world’s oceans. PulPac, a Swedish R&D and IP company wants to transform the packaging industry. They’ve developed an innovative production method that can replace single use plastic at a lower cost. The fast production makes the method cost effective and the material, generic pulp from cellulose, makes it sustainable.
With expertise in end-to-end innovation and sustainability and a history of successfully accelerating new product and packaging concepts to market, PA were the ideal partner for PulPac. From circular product design, to material science and manufacturing process development, PA’s multi-disciplinary skilled teams enabled PulPac to rapidly grow and scale its technology.
- Applied agile innovation approaches to solve technology challenges and provide rapid value
- Provided an end-to-end manufacturing solution to scale the technology to build a prototype manufacturing platform for PulPac’s patented IP
- Leveraged our consumer and manufacturing network to introduce and broker relationships between PulPac and global brands
Reducing plastic waste by providing a sustainable alternative
Sustainability has moved from a niche movement to big business. The rise of brands like Patagonia, Toms and REI has proven the worth of values-based business. And regulators worldwide are pushing companies to reduce waste and increase recycling, an imperative that has been challenged by China and Malaysia’s ban on importing plastic waste for recycling. It’s clear that single-use plastics, which include shopping bags, coffee cup lids, utensils, soda and water bottles, straws and hangars, are ripe for reinvention.
- There is a $12 trillion market opportunity in achieving global sustainability goals
- The world produces more than 400 million tons of plastic annually
- Only 9 per cent of all plastic waste is currently recycled.
“Companies are being pushed by regulators and consumers to become sustainable, and they are rising to the challenge,” says Wil Schoenmakers, PA’s Global Head of Consumer Products & Retail. “They have a limited amount of time to change business processes, trial new products and implement them into their global supply chains.
Sustainable packaging that is feasible and affordable
PulPac was founded by packaging consultants Linus and Ove Larsson who wanted to develop a sustainable alternative to plastics. Fiber-based packaging stood out as the most sustainable alternative. However, the manufacturing process of traditional paper packaging is slow and costly. To replace single-use plastics at scale, PulPac needed to become an affordable and feasible option.
By removing the use of water in the manufacturing process, PulPac pioneered the technology of cellulose molding and enabled high-speed manufacturing of fiber and cellulose based products that can replace most packaging and single-use products presently made of plastics.
The result is PulPac’s “Dry Molded Fiber”, a patented manufacturing technology for the circular economy – using renewable pulp and cellulose resources to produce low cost, high performance, fiber-based packaging, and single-use products. Dry Molded Fiber leave an 80-90 per cent lower CO2 footprint at the same or lower cost as plastic. It enables cost efficient manufacturing and can replace most packaging and single-use products presently made of plastics, such as soda and coffee cup lids, bottles, meat trays, retail and bakery deli carry-out containers, razors and cosmetic packaging.
Partnering to seize market opportunity
“There is a significant market opportunity right now for innovation in the sustainability space,” says Linus Larsson, CEO of PulPac. “PulPac has an innovative and disruptive technology but needed a partner like PA who could help us move fast, get our products in front of global brands and scale into mass production.”
“We were fortunate to get a great idea and be able to patent it,” says Ove Larsson, Chief Technical Officer. “However, we had a dilemma. We had the IP and decided to offer PulPac on a license basis, but a lot of resources were needed to industrialize the technology and meet the huge demand of application development. PA has provided us with an end-to-end manufacturing platform to take our products to market.”
“Start-ups have small teams and limited budgets,” says Phil Fawcus, PA product design and engineering expert. “We take an agile approach to innovation, tackling the biggest problem first and creating rapid value. Our scientists are in one room and can literally change their focus day-by-day as needed to meet our client’s needs.” With PulPac, that meant identifying and vetting high-value applications and developing the functionality of the material. For example, food containers need specific barrier properties, whereas cups need water repellence.
In addition to the development work PulPac runs from Gothenburg, the PA team run PulPac’s Global Application Development Centre in the UK, providing a full suite of services under one roof, including business case development, product design, process and machine engineering, and manufacturing.
We’re helping build the global market for PulPac and have introduced the company’s to global fast-moving consumer goods (FMGC) brands. That enables PulPac to maximise its investment dollars by moving swiftly to product trials and securing significant new business opportunities.
To support the demand and growth ambitions, the partnership now has technology centres based in the UK and Sweden and aims to set up one in the US.
With our help Pulpac
- Is able to scale the technology to make the million-plus samples FMCGs need for trials
- Landed dozens of new global FMCG brand customers
- Plans to have 400 machines in operation in five years