Single-use plastic, a major source of pollution on every corner of the planet, has been vital to the food industry worldwide as it keeps products fresh and protected in the supply chain, on the supermarket shelf and in consumers’ homes.
However, brands are coming under increasing consumer pressure to reduce, remove or replace plastic due to environmental concerns, and while some progress has been made, until now there have been no credible alternatives available. A major change in the way we package food requires the development of a truly innovative product that delivers the same performance as plastic. Without other viable options, brands could not change their packaging due to the risk of supply chain disruption and increased food waste.
World-renowned paper manufacturer Arjowiggins has announced a revolutionary new product called Sylvicta, which is just the sustainable material manufacturers have been waiting for, and which is set to revolutionise the food packaging market.
“A key advantage that plastic brings to food packaging is that it prevents oxygen from getting into contact with the food,” explains Christophe Jordan, Managing Director of the Translucent Paper business at Arjowiggins. “This ensures maximum freshness throughout the supply chain right through to the point of consumption. Our highly skilled and experienced R&D teams have developed a translucent paper, Sylvicta, which also provides a more effective barrier to oxygen than plastic, as well as a barrier to mineral oils and fatty foodstuffs. At last, food brands have an alternative packaging option which will protect food as effectively as plastic, without the negative effects on the environment.”
The following is an illustration of the oxygen barrier provided by Sylvicta compared to plastics:
The name Sylvicta – the blend of the Latin word for forest (sylva) and the historic emblem of the county of Kent, where the paper is manufactured (Invicta) – translates as the “forest that conquers,” a perfect illustration of the role that paper can play in creating green solutions.
Sylvicta is entirely recyclable, compostable, and marine biodegradable, thanks to being manufactured from renewable raw materials supplied from protected forests under the FSC and PEFC schemes. Unlike other such products on the market, the manufacturing process does not use harmful chemicals to achieve its translucency and functionality. Sylvicta is made to the highest standards – it is food-contact approved according to the definitions of the European Food Safety Authority and the Food and Drug Administration (USA).
Innovation through collaboration
Tapping into the wealth of experience available in the industry is key to pushing the boundaries of sustainable packaging solutions. Arjowiggins has done this through collaborations with various players in the packaging supply chain.
“For our translucent barrier paper to be used in the current packaging lines producing pouches, sachets and flow wraps, we need partners to further extend the inherent functionalities of Sylvicta,” Jordan explains. “A perfect example of this is our collaboration with cutting-edge UK converter Sirane, which has worked with us to develop ultra-high barrier packaging options by adding high-moisture protection and heat-sealability properties. We have also worked with other specialised converters to add metallisation to achieve even higher barrier properties. The true innovation is that these are all entirely sustainable solutions.”
These pioneering collaborations open up an endless array of applications – from pouches for dry fruits, bags for salads, sachets for solid soap, sacks for pet food and flow-packs for chocolate bars, all the way through to metallised versions of Sylvicta for butter or margarine packaging. Until now, most of these applications use an unrecyclable, multi-layered packaging incorporating plastics or aluminium foil. With Sylvicta, they can be turned into fully recyclable paper packaging. The product is simply revolutionary.
A prime example of how Sylvicta can enable brands to respond to the increasing consumer concern over non-recyclable packaging is the wedge sandwich pack, recently placed in the spotlight by the BBC’s programme War on Plastic. These sandwich skillets are made from paper board laminated with a plastic film, to preserve freshness and create a window in the packaging.
While recent developments have seen brands creating a window that can be peeled off, in practice the consumer is unlikely to carry out this extra step in the recycling process. A sandwich skillet made with Sylvicta, however, not only offers translucency so that the consumer can still see the sandwich. It can also extend the shelf life, helping to reduce food waste, and can go straight into the paper recycling bin.
Evolving consumer attitudes mean that the public wants to be part of the solution and will embrace certain trade-offs when the protection of the planet is at stake. “Take France,” says Jordan. “Over the last eight years, the vast majority of open fridges in the supermarkets have been replaced by doors requiring extra effort to open – which could have had a negative effect on sales, but has had no apparent impact while achieving massive CO2 savings. The minor trade-off of paper not having quite the same levels of transparency as plastic is not thought to be a deterring factor for the environmentally conscious consumer.”
Going full-circle on the circular economy
Revolutionary solutions such as Sylvicta are the holy grail of plastic waste solutions, but their effectiveness can only be proven if the industry presses ahead with their adoption.
Before the pandemic some brands, manufacturers and retailers were able to drag their feet in adopting plastic-free alternatives. However, growing public consciousness and rising expectations from stakeholders to reduce plastic waste mean that firms must now move much faster on eradicating single-use plastics from their packaging.
An essential component of this corporate revolution is the true commitment to making a real and lasting positive change, combined with a bold vision and alternative ways of doing things. This includes a willingness to try new materials – especially paper, which is sustainable by nature as it uses (in a large part) wood pulp, a perfectly renewable raw material that contributes to a truly circular model. As Jordan says, “Sylvicta is the perfect alternative to single-use plastics as it can be used across a multitude of packaging applications and can be a real game-changer in the ongoing global movement to reduce plastic usage.”
Sylvicta meets the desires of the present without compromising the needs of the future. With this revolutionary new product from Arjowiggins, the time is now to take action on plastic waste and choose paper.
To find out more about Sylvicta translucent barrier paper by Arjowiggins, go to sylvicta.arjowiggins.com
Sylvicta is a registered trademark of Arjowiggins