Tetra Pak has commenced ground-breaking research towards advancing fibre-based sustainable food packaging, in collaboration with MAX IV – the most modern synchrotron radiation laboratory in the world. The research aims to uncover fresh insights into the nanostructure of fibre materials, with the first application to optimise the composition of materials used for paper straws.
This is the very first industrial research and development experiment at ForMAX, a brand new research station dedicated to studying materials from the forest, located at the MAX IV Laboratory in Lund, Sweden.
As the global demand for safe, nutritious food intensifies, and the scarcity of raw materials increases, the need to develop more sustainable packaging solutions that use less of these scarce resources has become urgent. New materials based on paper will bring novel opportunities, but they need to remain food safe, recyclable, be more durable against liquids and humidity, while meeting the increased sustainability demands.
Eva Gustavsson, Vice President Materials & Package, Tetra Pak, says: “A fundamental understanding of the structure and properties of materials is crucial as we work towards developing the package of the future. Our ambition is to provide the world’s most sustainable food package, and experiments at ForMAX will clearly support us in this mission.
“The package of the future needs to be fully recyclable and have a low environmental impact. Using renewable materials and increasing the use of fibre-based material within packages will be vital. With this research, Tetra Pak is helping to uncover fresh insights into plant-based materials as a basis for future innovations.”
Kim Nygård, Manager, ForMAX beamline, MAX IV says: “The experiment conducted at ForMAX is a milestone for both academia and industry. The research station is the first of its kind and will facilitate both fundamental and applied industrial research on how new, sustainable materials can be used going forward. We are proud to support Tetra Pak in its development of sustainable packaging materials for the future.”
Eskil Andreasson, Technology Specialist, Virtual Modelling, Tetra Pak, says: “Our first experiment, which starts with paper straws, provides additional analysis capabilities into how paper straw material responds to changes in the environment in real-time, as well as how the straw interacts with different types of liquids under stringent conditions. These new insights and knowledge will be applied to developing the paper straws of the future in our virtual modelling tools, helping us to improve their functionality.”
About Tree search
The construction of ForMAX has been funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the operating costs are funded by the industry through Treesearch, a national collaborative platform for academic and industrial research in new materials from the forest. As an industrial partner in Treesearch, Tetra Pak is one of the initiators and facilitators of ForMAX.
 Synchrotron radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles travel in curved paths perpendicular to their velocity