Feature in FY2011:
Environmentally-conscious packaging design
- Shift to paper-based packaging materials-Started from the birth of Ecosys.
- With sufficient knowledge of both packaging materials and products, we were able to overcome the problems.
- Thorough verification and feedback have improved both products and packages.
- Pursuing higher goals, based on accumulated technologies.
With sufficient knowledge of both packaging materials and products, we were able to overcome the problems.
What types of paper-based materials are used?
Itano:We often use corrugated cardboard and molded pulp. Corrugated cardboard is used for the outer casing, fixation and cushioning. Molded pulp is mainly used for cushioning and fixation.
Is paper-based packaging really environmentally-conscious?
Nakamura:Corrugated cardboard has a globally established collection and recycling system, in which used cardboard is turned into new cardboard materials. Molded pulp is made from waste paper, and also collected and recycled after use. Thus, these can be called recycling-oriented packaging materials.
Itano:Both corrugated cardboard and molded pulp are made mainly from plant fiber. Molded pulp, in particular, can be formed without using solvent adhesives, and is highly biodegradable when disposed of in landfills, imparting no negative impact on the soil.
Are there any weaknesses to paper-based packaging materials?
Nakamura:Yes, there are. They are easily crushed when subjected to pressure or impact, and it is very difficult to return them to their original shape. They also easily absorb water and become weaker when moist.
To overcome these weaknesses of paper-based packaging materials, what actions have you taken?
Itano:If we use a lot of packaging materials to overcome their weaknesses, it is not environmentally-conscious. To realize a packaging design that uses a minimum amount of materials while sufficiently protecting products, we should have a comprehensive knowledge of the characteristics of both packaging materials and products.
Nakamura:When properly packaged, using only paper-based materials can have sufficient strength. We are engaged in all the stages related to packaging, from cutting and assembling cardboard sheets to testing packages with products containing actual products.
Itano:We need to design packaging that can protect products even if the carrier accidentally drops the box during carriage, which is a difficult task. Despite the difficulty, it is also exciting to think through the solutions. Paper-based packages can be fabricated by a single person. Whenever you come up with an idea, you can make a prototype right away. This is very attractive.
Nakamura:We once tried to use molded pulp as cushioning material for a product that weighed 33.5 kg. In those days, it was said that molded pulp would collapse if it held a product of 20 kg or more. We decided to challenge this established view of the industry. We eventually succeeded in creating such strong packaging by inserting a cardboard sheet between the product and the molded pulp material to reinforce it. I believe paper-based packaging has great potential, which can be tapped if we never give up and constantly apply our efforts.