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Sappi Kraft (Pty) Ltd Editorial Financial Mail Changing the Face of Product Packaging

As the demands of product warehousing, retailing and long-distance transportation are changing under the influence of increased market sophistication and globalisation, so are packaging requirements. Plain cardboard boxes are simply no longer sufficient to meet the needs of producers with specialist packaging needs. The growing volume of packaging being used world-wide is also placing these producers under pressure to find packaging materials that are fully recyclable and manufactured in an environmentally-sound way. In response to these urgent needs, Sappi Kraft Speciality Packaging, a division of Sappi Forest Products, has developed a solution that is set to change the face of product packaging. “In partnership with Sasol, we set out to develop a flexible new paper-based packaging solution that would be able to meet the needs of producers as diverse as frozen food manufacturers, fruit exporters and fast-moving consumer goods producers,” says Garrett Miller, Sappi Kraft Speciality Packaging’s Business Manager. “The new product range, called Barricoat, is one of the first to be developed at Sappi’s Technology Research Centre, recently custom-built and situated at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria.” Barricoat is a barrier-coated packaging paper range, used for boxes that require superior rigidity as well as protection from water and water vapour damage, fat, grease and scuffing. This innovative, technologically-advanced range from Sappi Kraft is also produced in a sustainable and environmentally-sound way, and is fully recyclable, re-pulpable and food contact approved. Initially developed as a solution for the banana industry, it is now attracting attention from other fruit growers, fresh flower producers and food manufacturers from as far afield as Kenya. “Barricoat offers the same protective qualities as other packaging materials,” says Miller, “but is much more environmentally-sound and cost-efficient.”

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For producers increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their packaging, Barricoat is the ultimate solution. It is produced from both virgin and recycled fibres, with virgin fibres being sourced from Sappi forests and independent suppliers certified by the international Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). The entire growing and harvesting process, which is audited by independent auditors, is also 100% sustainable. In addition, all Barricoat grades are fully recyclable, with the costs of recycling being much lower than for many other forms of packaging. Another benefit is that the range offers further cost savings all along the supply chain. As it is barrier coated during the production process, it does not have to be coated on-site while being converted, significantly lowering the cost of production. Costs are further reduced by the fact that all converter waste can be sold back to Sappi Kraft for recycling, also eliminating the cost of transportation to landfill sites and the need to pay any landfill taxes that may be introduced in the future. “This is where we see the very real benefits of Sappi’s investment in scientific research and development,” says Charlie Clarke, Fibre Processing Manager at the Sappi Technology Research Centre. “Sappi’s research programme, initiated by previous Chief Operating Officer, Dr John Job, is coming up with solutions to some of the most intractable packaging problems facing producers today.” Barricoat, for instance, has eliminated the need for soft citrus manufacturers to import expensive solid wall boxes that are able to withstand condensation. It has also given banana producers a viable alternative to wax-coated boxes that cannot be recycled. Barricoat provides them with packaging that protects the fruit from discolouration and chafing, but which doesn’t disintegrate when it is packed wet. Sappi Kraft is also hoping that, amongst other solutions, Barricoat will provide the fishing industry with a viable alternative to some of the environmentally-invasive packaging it is currently using. “Barricoat, like other innovations from Sappi Kraft, has been developed in direct response to the needs of our customers and of the consumer,” concludes Miller. “We’re very proud of it and believe it is set to change the face of product packaging completely.”

For more information on Sappi Limited, Sappi Kraft (Pty) Limited and Barricoat, visit

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