© Stora Enso
Italian confectionery giant Ferrero has teamed up with renewable packaging company Stora Enso to find a productive use for the hazelnut shells and cocoa bean peel left over from the production of its confectionery products.
The resulting material – dubbed EcoPaper – is made of waste material that has been converted using a dry milling process and then added to the middle layer of a triplex folding box board. There, it acts as a partial replacement for virgin cellulosic fibres. Hence, the waste materials are upcycled as raw materials for board production and not being treated as waste, leading to a more sustainable and economical packaging solution.
The technology has been co-developed by the German research institute PTS as part of a €1.2m project, which has been part-funded by the European Union.
The production methods were developed in Italy and Germany during the program’s laboratory phase in 2011. The results were then transferred to the pilot plant in mid-2012, and EcoPaper now intends to scale this up to an industrial level.
Ferrero’s coordinator on the project said: “We have access to large amounts of residual by-products which we realised could be used constructively. Initial hurdles concerned how to process the waste before use, but we overcame those problems by refining the milling process.”
Stora Enso mill manager Miguel Sánchez continued to describe the makeup of the material in greater detail: “We are still experimenting on the ideal mixture of nutshell fibres in the pulp, but so far it works well for stiffness and bulk. The hazelnut fibres are used in the board’s middle layer and have been tested for allergy aspects without any problems.
“We are even making tests with cocoa skin as a raw material for fibre in pulp, but that is still in a very early stage.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019