The Paper Industry Is Looking for Alternative Raw Material
The past few years have shown how fragile the global supply chains for merchandise and raw materials really are. This is why some representatives of the packaging industry are considering whether and in what form they can find other raw material sources to substitute paper to be a little more independent from world trade and its smooth functioning.
The shortage of raw materials ultimately led to a surge in prices. At the beginning of 2021, the price increase amounted to more than 16 per cent from last year. That is also due to the heightened demand for cardboard and corrugated cardboard. The result was delivery bottlenecks and ever-increasing costs. At the same time, there has also been a shortage of recycled material in recent months.
On the other hand, the packaging industry is increasingly relying on paper as plastics are frowned upon by customers. So, manufacturers need to reconcile sustainability and cost-effectiveness, and new raw materials should help here. After all, switching to plastic is not an alternative anymore. Apart from sustainability, the problem here is the same as with paper. Prices of other materials have risen, and supplying is slowing down too.
Modern technologies have meant that companies use their raw sources more sparingly in the manufacturing process. But the trend towards paper packaging has been noticeable for years. Companies are looking for packaging made from fibres that can be recycled. At the same time, we are designing new ways to process alternative materials from novelty fibers. That opens a new perspective for the industry.
Asparagus, Oats, and Grass Paper
However, there are a few things to consider when looking for substitutes. Where do these fibres come from, and are they environmentally certified? Can they be reused as many times as necessary? This point has always been problematic. Cellulose fibres cannot be recycled endlessly. Usually, this process is efficient up to six times and then the material has to be discarded. Inevitably, manufacturers must add fresh fibres to ensure quality. However, that is not a problem with wood and alternatives made from waste products. Generally, such products are wood shavings and sawdust from sawmills. They can be used for plain kraft paper and cardboard.
But the industry is still looking for other innovative alternatives as well. One of them is grass paper, for example. Packaging and labels made from such fibers have long been available. The material has also proven to be an excellent in terms of quality, appearance, and mass processing. The recyclability is also appealing.
Another alternative is asparagus waste. Currently, only a half of the world’s production of asparagus is used for food. What is less known is that the product is an excellent fibre-rich material. A research team in Germany is working on using asparagus waste for paper production. Other alternatives could also be oat pelts. These are a by-product of oat grinding. These examples show how innovative the seemingly stagnant industry can be. In this way, the companies could also shorten their supply chains simultaneously and would no longer be dependent on the world market hiccups.