Tetra Pak Launches New Research into Fiber-Based Packaging

Ambitious goal: Packaging Producer Tetra Pak GmbH & Co. KG says it wants to develop the world’s most sustainable food packaging.

Tetra Pak is embarking on research to develop sustainable fiber-based food packaging in collaboration with MAX IV, a research center in the field of synchrotron radiation. The aim of the research is to gain new insights into the nanostructure of fiber materials. In the first phase of the research, the material composition of paper drinking straws will be optimized.

Research into the nanostructure of fiber materials is the first industrial research and development project by ForMAX, a new research station dedicated to the analysis of plant fibre. The research center is part of the MAX IV laboratory in Lund, Sweden.

As global demand for safe, nutritious food increases and raw materials become scarcer, the development of more sustainable packaging solutions is a global imperative. Paper-based materials have the potential to open up new vistas. However, they must be food-safe, recyclable, able to withstand liquids and high humidity, and sustainable at the same time.

Eva Gustavsson, Vice President Materials & Package at Tetra Pak, explains, “A fundamental understanding of the structure and properties of materials is crucial for developing future-oriented packaging. Our goal is to develop the world’s most sustainable food packaging – and the research at ForMAX will help us in this endeavor. The packaging of the future must be fully recyclable and have a low environmental impact. The use of renewable raw materials and the increased use of fiber-based materials in packaging will be crucial in this regard. In addition, this research is helping to provide new insights into the use of plant-based materials.”

Improving paper drinking straws

The first phase of the research focuses on the composition of paper drinking straws, analyzing in real time how they respond to different types of liquids and other environmental factors. The knowledge gained will be incorporated into the development of paper drinking straws in the future, improving functionality.

Kim Nygård, head of the MAX VI research station ForMAX is pleased: “The planned research project is a milestone for science and the industry. The research facility is the first of its kind and will make a significant contribution to the use of new, sustainable materials in the future. We are proud to support Tetra Pak in the development of sustainable packaging materials.”

About ForMAX

The construction of ForMAX was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Operating costs are covered by various companies through Treesearch, a national platform for academic and industrial research of new forest materials. As an official partner of Treesearch, Tetra Pak is one of the initiators and sponsors of the ForMAX project. According to Tetra Pak, the MAX IV X-ray research laboratory is one of the world’s most advanced facilities in the field of synchrotron radiation.

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