Natural packaging

Natural packaging

Smart packaging is an eco-friendly choice: wisely designed food packaging protects the contents in the same way as the dry and hard scale of a pine cone protects its seeds. Packaging ensures that the product remains intact, pure and fresh all the way from the production plant to the dining table.

Inside the nearly 200-metre long paperboard machine, pure pulp is converted into strong but lightweight folding boxboard and food service paperboard at a speed of one kilometre per minute. 

The fresh fibre paperboard is wrapped into a huge jumbo reel weighing 30 tonnes. Using a winder, the paperboard is cut into reels of suitable size. Some of the paperboard is also cut in a sheet cutter into sheets for customers who produce consumer packaging for cereals, chocolates and many other products. 

At the mill, there are signs everywhere that remind people about safety, because the hygiene and safety requirements are extremely strict for paperboard that comes into contact with food. 

     

Natural packaging

Purity is the number one priority 

Metsä Board, which is part of Metsä Group, produces all its paperboards from pure fresh fibre from northern forests. Its paperboards are used in packaging for consumer products around the world. 

Paperboard made from fresh fibre is naturally pure and safe, and never contains any unknown chemicals. Every step of its journey from the stump to the paperboard mill is fully traceable. 

“Fresh fibre paperboard doesn’t involve a risk of various residues – such as mineral oil, printing ink, varnishes or glues – being migrated into food. This is why it’s an ideal packaging material for products for which purity is the number-one priority,” says Marjatta Punkka, Product Safety Manager at Metsä Board.

Purity is the number one priority

"Fresh fibre paperboard doesn’t involve a risk of various residues – such as mineral oil, printing ink, varnishes or glues – being migrated into food.”

MARJATTA PUNKKA|METSÄ BOARD

Packaging protects the product

Packaging protects the product  

Well-designed and optimised packaging protects the product from chemical, biological and physical impacts throughout its life cycle. It also ensures that the food product is delivered intact, pure and fresh from the production plant to the shop shelf, and further to the dining table. 

“When a consumer picks a package from the shop shelf, the packaging has already fulfilled one of its most important tasks: it has protected the food product throughout the logistics chain, ensuring that the valuable product ends up intact and fresh where it belongs – that is, to be consumed by people,” says Punkka. 

Packaging plays a minor role in the environmental footprint




Packaging plays a minor role in the environmental footprint

The environmental impacts of food mainly arise from primary production. For most food products, the production of packaging plays a minor role in their total environmental impact: only a few per cent. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, up to a third of all food produced ends up in waste – which burdens both the environment and the economy. 

“In developing countries, waste is caused by insufficient infrastructure, among other factors. In developed countries, part of the environmental footprint arises from consumers’ food waste, in addition to primary production,” says Anu Rehtijärvi, Market Intelligence Manager at Metsä Board. 

Finns throw away 20–25 kilos of food per year that is still edible. In other words, the food thrown away by a Finnish family of four is worth up to EUR 500 per year. 

“The annual environmental impact of the food waste generated in our entire food chain is equivalent to the annual emissions from up to 350,000 passenger cars,” says Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). 

Food waste

Smart packaging reduces food waste

The emissions from unnecessarily produced food are much higher than the environmental impacts of the production and reuse of packaging for the entire amount of food. 

“For example, if one slice from a of ham package is wasted, the climate effect of that single slice is equal to the climate load caused by the production and reuse of the entire ham package,” says Katajajuuri. 

In other words, giving up packaging will not solve environmental problems. Instead, packaging is one way to reduce food waste and unnecessary environmental load.

     

"For example, if one slice from a of ham package is wasted, the climate effect of that single slice is equal to the climate load caused by the production and reuse of the entire ham package.”

JUHA-MATTI KATAJARUURI|LUONNONVARAKESKUS

      

“The value and carbon footprint of the food product to be packaged is always many times that of the packaging. It’s resource-efficient to avoid overpackaging but adequately protect the valuable product,” says Rehtijärvi. 

“By choosing the right amount of the right type of packaging material in the right place, we can ensure that the resources used for the production of a valuable food product will not be wasted by the food being contaminated or damaged before it is used,” Rehtijärvi sums up.

Paperboard excellence

Learn why paperboard is the most natural packaging material