Future of paperboard
Muoto™ – a new initiative in the packaging market Metsä Group and Valmet have taken moulded pulp technology to a new level in their joint project. The end product is light and strong, and its production process is resource-efficient and waste-free. Muoto™ products have received praise during their first market tests.
Maria Latokartano, photo: Metsä Group
M etsä Group has released a brand-new gift pack- aging prototype designed for Fiskars. The prod- uct features inner packaging – mirroring the shape of scissors – made from the innovative Muoto™ 3D fibre solution and a paperboard encasing made from Metsä Board’s folding boxboard. The innovative Muoto™ is Metsä Group’s answer to the global packaging market, which requires sustainability, less waste, and production processes and logistics with good energy and material efficiency. “The Muoto product looks and feels like paperboard, but it isn’t paperboard. It’s actually a completely new type of packaging produced with moulded pulp technology,” says Jarkko Tuominen , Project Director at Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring. Environmental impacts at a minimum Muoto products are produced using moulded pulp tech- nology from materials such as Metsä Fibre’s first-class softwood and hardwood pulp. In the process, the wet pulp mass is moulded directly into shape, forming what is called the “product matrix”. This matrix is then dried into its final shape in a hot press. The product’s properties like water and grease re- sistance can be improved with a barrier coating in the finishing phase, just as with paperboard packaging. The environmental impacts of the operation have been minimised. There is no material waste at all, as all the trimmed waste can be returned to the process. The pro- cess water is recycled, and on top of this, the demo plant
operates solely with renewable energy produced at the Äänekoski bioproduct mill. The end product consists of three layers with prop- erties tailored in the production phase to meet use re- quirements. Thanks to the layered structure, the prod- uct is both light and strong. The modern moulded pulp technology also allows the production of rounded and otherwise complex shapes. “Muoto packages can be pressed into the rounded com- plex shapes familiar from the plastic industry. The technol- ogy is also suitable for creating lightweight yet stiff pack- aging structures offering good protective properties,” says Tarja Heikkilä , Product Manager at Metsä Spring. Positive feedback from customers According to Tuominen, Muoto products are suitable for many kinds of end uses, including food packaging. The fresh fibre-based product is clean and safe, making it suit- able for direct contact with food. The target is to make them biodegradable and compostable as well. “Our aim is for Muoto products to be recycled just like paperboard. This would be a big advantage because the global recycling system already exists, and consum- ers already know how the product should be recycled.” “While plastic will continue to play a role in the fu- ture, there are countless end uses in which we can use a renewable and recyclable bioproduct instead of plas- tic,” says Heikkilä. In the Muoto project, Metsä Group is working close- ly with Valmet, a leading global developer and suppli-
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