When the Swedish retail chain Coop decided to create new packaging for its own-brand frozen berries, it deliberately chose a higher-priced base material for environmental reasons. Coop selected the paperboard material Invercote Bio, a virgin-fibre-based board coated with bioplastic. The bioplastic makes the packaging compostable so that the used packaging can go into the same waste stream as any remaining contents. The result is better for the environment but costs more due to the more advanced properties of the bioplastic compared with those of traditional PE coatings.
"This decision was totally in line with our sustainability policy and is actually not that unusual because we incorporate sustainability thinking into all our business deliberations," explains Louise König, Sustainability Manager at Coop.
The berry package, which is part of Coop’s own Änglamark line of products that are organic, fair trade or environmentally or allergy adapted, was developed by the printers Trosa Tryckeri in collaboration with the berry supplier Olle Svenssons Partiaffär.
"Our aim was to develop a packaging that stands out from the usual rectangular boxes in the display freezer," explains project manager Henrik Bjurbäck. "In addition, both we and Olle Svensson wanted to satisfy Coop’s desire to live up to the environmental profile of the Änglamark brand.
"Invercote has a very good printing surface and behaves predictably. What was new for us was the bioplastic, which posed a challenge with regard to the choice of adhesive. The difficulty was to find a heat-setting adhesive that functions well technically during production whilst also withstanding the tough environment it is exposed to in freezers. We solved that issue after contacts with both Iggesund and a broad network of adhesives suppliers."
Invercote Bio will soon have been available for five years and throughout that time Iggesund has used the bioplastic Mater-Bi from the Italian company Novamont.
"We chose it because the company has strong R&D resources and could also guarantee that the bioplastic was free from starch made from genetically modified maize," explains Jonas Adler at Iggesund Paperboard, who is commercial manager for Invercote Bio. "The challenge for us was to find a bioplastic material that could be extruded with good results.
"These issues of extrusion and adhesives usage underline the fact that this is a young material but it is continually being improved. At the same time, nowadays more and more brand owners are prepared to pay a little more for the superior environmental properties."