Specially designed modern age applications

Specially designed for modern age applications

4:36 AM, 22nd September 2016
Specially designed for modern age applications
Specialty papers is coming up as one such area which is finding new high end applications in varied industries.

Nowadays traditional paper applications are slowing down, giving way to better digital versions. This is posing a major challenge for the paper industry, which has to metamorphose itself to suit modern day needs. Specialty papers is coming up as one such area which is finding new high-end applications in varied industries.

Paper, at large, is undergoing a complete role reversal. With the outburst of digital age, the use of paper is witnessing a drastic decrease; be it newspapers, classroom accessories, phone books, bank and office documentation or just simply those ol’ yellow post-its.

A digital version of all these have been consistently making a permanent mark in our lives majorly cutting down on the traditional use of paper. However, on the other hand, digital age also gave rise to the era of online shopping, in turn redefining the way packaging industry functions. Big, small, thick, thin, heavy, light - new age packaging is pushing the use of paper to the next level.

The role of paper will constantly see a revision to keep up with the industry and environment needs. In this role revision, specialty paper has gained momentum lately to become the major driver for the global pulp and paper chemicals market.

What’s so special about specialty papers?

By definition, specialty papers exhibit special performance characteristics like strength, dimensional stability, density, porosity, smoothness, wet strength, absorptivity etc.

They are optically enriching with very high brightness, deep colours with low or high opacity and gloss.

They have increased conductivity or increased resistivity (insulation) making them ideal choice for various electrical applications and also have special chemical properties like purity, anti-corrosion, antimicrobial or pH etc.

Markets and Markets point out that specialty paper market, in terms of volume, is projected to reach 34,879.08 kt by 2020, growing at a CAGR of around 6.59 percent from 2015. This market is expected to witness growth in developing countries such as Asia (excluding Japan) and Central and South America.

The demand will be triggered by the rising consumer demand for high-quality products in sectors like food & beverages, cosmetics, and lifestyle products. Thus packaging and labelling plays an important role in this segment as packaging paper required for these products needs specific properties such as moisture retentions, hygiene, durability, and pH levels.

While packaging is just a part of the bigger story, specialty papers is finding increasing use in other end user industries such as building & construction, business & communication, food service, industrial, medical, electrical applications across the globe. With rising quality concerns, aseptic packaging is becoming the need of the hour to ensure the quality of food and pharmaceutical packaging, the growing building and construction industry is also widening the scope of wall paper and décor market. Growing industrial activities in developing countries has also strengthened prospects of specialty chemicals in industrial applications.

The dynamics of specialty paper application is witnessing constant demand for better property papers needed for medical application, automobile filter application and banking application. Special grade papers required for printing currency notes to specialty bond papers, the demand is constantly rising. However, packaging & labelling will continue to dominate this segment.

Industry Trends

Specialty papers account for only five percent of worldwide paper consumption but the value addition that this paper offer is much greater than the production numbers. Specialty paper is fast becoming a part of our daily lives even without our realisation.

Restaurant, fuel, grocery receipts printed on thermal paper, banknotes, photographic based paper, cigarette papers, décor papers, labels, masking tapes- these are all specialty papers that are a part of our daily activity. Some trends that are capturing the imagination of this segment are as follows:

Packaging papers: Papers used for packaging is constantly undergoing a change to be in sync with the environmental and logistical requirements. Less use of paper and lighter packaging is the norm. Packaging paper is also constantly being challenged by plastic packaging making it more important for packaging papers to diversity itself.

“In the packaging industry, there is a high level of transition away from paper-based packing to plastic packaging. The unmet needs of the market have overtaken the current offerings. The capabilities in paper-based packaging provide a perfect storm of transition,” said Dave Long, VP business development, Coveris Performance Packaging.

Home Decor: The boom in construction activities across the globe coupled with rising disposable income has given home décor a new dimension. Wall papers are undergoing a complete transformation. New patterns like wood grain, stone or abstract patterns are in trend which come in various effects such as matte combinations and registered matte coatings etc. To suit the modern requirements, décor papers need good dimensional stability, high level of opacity, hard stresses and impregnation for which specialty papers are increasing being preferred. Specialty papers are also effective for upgrading the surface of woodbased panels to provide excellent surface for decorative printing and resin saturation for use in the production of furniture, laminate flooring and other interior and exterior architectural panels.

Food Packaging: The rise in packaged food has also increased the need for hygienic, food grade packaging to be in sync with various safety regulations. Hence, along with plastic packaging, paper packaging is also seeing a tremendous opportunity for growth.

Leading packaging manufacturer, Coveris, recently launched its new range of packaging for a cooked meat range, Haloodies and CP Foods. Coveris, as a flexible film packaging partner, supplied printed lidding films. The high barrier top web film ensured superior pack integrity, visual clarity and food safety coupled with colour management and print.

“The packaging has been an integral part of our finished product. The consumer experience is vital and the look of the product with printed film plays a key part in this,” said Noman Khawaja, co-founder of Haloodies and sales director of KKR Halal.

Light weight packaging: Packaging industry is trying to get more compact and lighter. This not just aids in the use of less paper in packaging but also plays a significant role in easy logistics. Many packaging companies are constantly trying various ways to reduce the overall weight of the packaging. Coveris came up with thin walled packaging solution by using industrial injection compression system for the first time to reduce the overall weight of the packaging by 20 percent. The system features integrated in mold label (IML) decoration for lightweight 500g Eurotubs and finds application in the spreads industry.

“Our injection compression IML is a great achievement in the improvement of the established injection molding IML technology. I am confident that it will become a great success story for all parties involved in this technology development for thin wall packaging,” said Yves Caunegre, group development manager, Coveris Global Rigid.

Munksjo, a leading manufacturer of advanced papers products, completed its range of Gerbier HDS with a 35 g/m² low basis weight paper. Gerbier HDS are one side coated glossy papers used for flexible packaging. Compared to a standard Gerbier HDS 40 g/m², the 35 g/m² grade provides a 12.5 percent weight reduction enabling a lower environment footprint impact while maintaining high performance during lamination, printing and converting. This flexible packaging finds application in pouches or sachets, for food and non-food end-uses such as sugar, coffee, aromatic herbs or dehydrated products.

“The flexible packaging market is putting a lot of energy to meet the demanding challenges of brand owners looking for creative ideas, technically advanced packaging, respectful of brand image and supporting the transition to a sustainable society,” said Alexandra Venot, vice president, Flexible Packaging.

Saving the Green

To address the rising ecological threat, the pulp and paper industry is constantly working towards exploring more sustainable production options. Non-wood pulp, tree free papers are some of the terms that are fast catching up in the industry to preserve the world and be more sustainable. According to Technavio research, while the global pulp market in 2015 was dominated by chemical pulp which accounted for 73 percent of the total market, non-wood pulp constituted for only 8 percent. However, rising attention towards sustainability efforts will give a major impetus to non-wood pulp in future.

“Forest and plantation management is an integral part of most key vendors’ business models. Key vendors in the market are increasingly aligning their business activities with afforestation efforts to create a sustainable business model that is based on renewable solutions. This market will likely witness the rise of many integrated vendors with proprietary forest and plantation areas for the procurement of raw materials for pulp production during the forecast period,” said Abhay Sinha, one of Technavio’s lead research analysts.

Non-wood pulp is produced from fibres that are derived from fibre-rich sources such as cereal straws, bamboo, kenaf, sugar cane bagasse, and corn stalks, all of which are substitutes for short fibres derived from hardwood, and softwood derived flax, hemp, cotton, and abaca.

“As eco-friendly and organic driven product lines develop, the desire to have recycled and tree-free paper has grown as a way to become more sustainable and position their brand to meet the needs of the growing sustainable market. I expect to see this trend continue to grow and escalate over the next decade,” said Rich Cohen, founder & president, Distant Village Packaging.

He further added that water hyacinth, one of the world’s most invasive plant species, is increasingly being used as a substitute.

“The water hyacinth jewellery boxes have a beautiful natural colour with random and organic plant fibres in the papers creating an authentic look and story for handmade and natural jewellery producers,” said Cohen.

The pulp and paper industry is constantly innovating itself to not just create better grade paper to suit modern-day requirements but is also constantly trying to invent better ways to protect the environment. Specialty papers is one step towards achieving these goals.

© Chemical Today Magazine

Note: Few quotes have been sourced from The Specialty Papers Conferences 2016.


See the Story Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 32)




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