Tetra Pak has commenced ground-breaking research towards advancing fibre-based sustainable food packaging, in collaboration with MAX IV – the most modern synchrotron radiation laboratory in the world. The research aims to uncover fresh insights into the nanostructure of fibre materials, with the first application to optimise the composition of materials used for paper straws.
In 2019, Tetra Pak became the first packaging company to launch paper straws in Europe, a full two tears ahead of an EU wide ban on plastic straws and the company is now focussed on taking its ground-breaking technology to the next level.
This is the first industrial research and development experiment at ForMAX, a brand new research station dedicated to studying materials from the forest, located at the MAX IV Laboratory in Lund, Sweden.
As the global demand for safe, nutritious food intensifies, and the scarcity of raw materials increases, the need to develop more sustainable packaging solutions that use less of these scarce resources has become urgent. New materials based on paper will bring novel opportunities, but they need to remain food safe, recyclable, be more durable against liquids and humidity, while meeting the increased sustainability demands.
‘A fundamental understanding of the structure and properties of materials is crucial as we work towards developing the package of the future. Our ambition is to provide the world’s most sustainable food package, and experiments at ForMAX will clearly support us in this mission’ Eva Gustavsson, Vice President Materials & Package, Tetra Pak, said. ‘The package of the future needs to be fully recyclable and have a low environmental impact. Using renewable materials and increasing the use of fibre-based material within packages will be vital. With this research, Tetra Pak is helping to uncover fresh insights into plant-based materials as a basis for future innovations.”
Kim Nygård, Manager, ForMAX beamline, MAX IV added: “The experiment conducted at ForMAX is a milestone for both academia and industry. The research station is the first of its kind and will facilitate both fundamental and applied industrial research on how new, sustainable materials can be used going forward. We are proud to support Tetra Pak in its development of sustainable packaging materials for the future.”
‘Our first experiment, which starts with paper straws, provides additional analysis capabilities into how paper straw material responds to changes in the environment in real-time, as well as how the straw interacts with different types of liquids under stringent conditions.’, Eskil Andreasson, Technology Specialist, Virtual Modelling, Tetra Pak, said. ‘These new insights and knowledge will be applied to developing the paper straws of the future in our virtual modelling tools, helping us to improve their functionality.’