• Gary Robinson

Synaptic Connections Newsletter 2019 Week#21

Updated: May 27, 2019

May 20, 2019 www.Synapticpackaging.com Image - Palm Canopy at Night, Dubai

Week#21 of 2019 Hello, I hope this note finds you well and that you enjoyed a nice weekend!  For those that are new, welcome.  This newsletter is a platform to explore Sustainability through the lens of disruptive innovation.  The primary focus is on high volume consumer packaging, and the goal is to help stimulate compelling dialogue with your colleagues and motive creative thoughts.  The lead-in commentary is intended to provide strategic insight and directional guidance, however, the links at the bottom are often the most beneficial deliverable from the newsletter.  For, in the links, you can read case studies of companies who are demonstrating leadership.  There is much to learn from their experiences.

This week, we will continue our exploration of Natural/ Renewable Materials that provide Sustainable packaging solutions.  If you trace back through the prior publications of Synaptic Connections you can find the strategy that has lead up to this topic, and you can see the forward looking agenda which is summarized in the info-graph below.

Today, let’s take a look at molded fiber.  For clarity purposes, we will define this as molded fiber that is manufactured through a pulp-slurry process.  This is a different technology than reel-to-reel, or continuous web, paper solutions.

Molded fiber has been around for a very long time, this is not a new technology.  Historically, it has been used almost entirely in food service applications, and industrial packaging supplies.  For food service - this is commonly paper plates and partitioned trays.  For industrial - it is often used for bracing and stacking of heavy industrial goods like automotive.

With the drive to find more Sustainable alternatives, molded fiber is getting a lot of new attention and interest.  Most recently, you are seeing high-end IT consumer products, and cosmetic products leading the advancements in molded-fiber technology.  Through R&D we are seeing significant improvements in aesthetic characteristics with cleaner lines, tighter tolerances, and specialty surface treatments.  We are also seeing improvements in functionality of molded fiber as part of a broader packaging system.

To respect everyone’s time and keep this brief, here is a quick roll-up on molded fiber.

Strengths of Molded Fiber Solutions:  Often very effective at providing structural requirements for a packaging system.  The material can accommodate a broad array of geometries, has nice strength characteristics, and deep draws.  Economically, the raw material can be very affordable.

Weakness of Molded Fiber Solutions:  Molded fiber is capital intensive, the manufacturing process is historically slower than a plastic alternative and requires significant tooling investment.  Molded fiber historically does not produce a very good print surface, so communication attributes are often limited.  Molded fiber has limited barrier properties and most recently is under high scrutiny for containing PFAS (Link).

Consistent with the tone of Synpatic Connections, we see opportunity when others might see problems.  Taking a Forward Lean// we are bullish on the growth of molded fiber and we feel that growth will be fueled by the following innovations:  1) Barrier technology,  2) Alternative fiber sources, 3) Accelerated processing speeds, 4) Fusion of fibers with other novel bio-materials, 5) Emerging manufacturing to enable broader geometries and surface finishes.

Have a great week and enjoy the news articles below!

Packaging Sustainability//

ReThink Waste//

Emerging Energy//


Upcoming Trade Events//

May 21-22 May, Private Label Manufacturers Association, Amsterdam


3-6 June, SustBrands, Detroit, MI

11-13 June, Global Pouch Forum, Chicago, IL

17 June, SPC Engage, Minneapolis, MN

17-27 June, UN Climate Change Conference, Bonn, Germany

18-20 June, GreenBiz Circularity, Minneapolis, MN

19-20 June, Green Sports Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

25-26 June, Great Lakes Circular Economy, Toronto, Canada

The purpose of this newsletter is to stimulate innovative thoughts and constructive dialogue through the lens of sustainability.  New subscribers can send an e-mail to the link below to sign-up. 

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