Genera in the News: Molded Fiber is Shaping the Future

Paper Advancement

Genera Inc. COO Keith Brazell was recently published in Reusable Packaging News. Here is an excerpt of his article. 

Across all industries, consumers and B2B buyers are paying closer attention to where their products and packaging come from. Movements like Farm to Table and Shop Local have taken hold, but they’re no longer restricted to food and retail items. Decision-makers are asking tough questions about packaging and single-use disposable products. What are they made of? How are they manufactured? How do they impact the world we live in? What will happen to them after I’m done with them? 

According to Nielsen surveys, 73% of consumers say they want to change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact, so offering a more sustainable alternative to single-use plastic and polystyrene foam makes sense. Consumers now want to be good stewards of resources and also choose local means over long-distance shipping and transportation.  Molded fiber is one option that is seeing significant growth today. Both enhanced manufacturing and new applications are positioning this material to shape the future of sustainable packaging.

What is Molded Fiber?

While there are plenty of innovations happening in molded fiber today, it is not a new product. People have been making molded fiber products for more than a century. Consumers are familiar with molded fiber products sold at retail, including grocery store egg cartons, as well as fast food drink carriers and many others. This selection has been rapidly expanding in modern times.

Historically, molded fiber has been made from wood pulp, but it can be made from many plant cellulose fibers. Most recently, renewable crops like switchgrass and biomass sorghum are being used. The properly selected crop is very productive on otherwise unproductive land. To make molded fiber, a fiber slurry is vacuum molded onto a screen mold, then two matching, heated molds are pressed to the screen, drying the fiber into the desired shape and finish.

But while the egg carton might be the most readily familiar form of molded fiber, this versatile product is used in a surprising number of applications with a range of finishes and resilience. For example, the glossy insert trays inside the boxes new smartphones come in are often made from high-end molded fiber. Depending on the manufacturing process, it can be made with a look and feel that rivals or even exceeds that of plastic.

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Source: Genera