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MFC for packaging

Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) – A natural performance enhancer for bio-based packaging materials

Scientists have dug deep into the wonders of the woods to unearth a new recipe, one that can help us do more with less. Like creating lighter, stronger packaging that improves material efficiency and delivers high performance. Or replacing packaging raw materials containing fossil fuel with natural, renewable and biodegradable raw material – MFC. It is a natural product, stronger than steel, safe for food contact, and its superpowers are set to transform the paperboard and packaging industry.

How we are using MFC as a material in renewable packaging

Stora Enso has already market tested this breakthrough fibre derivative. In fact, we were one of the first companies to successfully launch paperboard enhanced with MFC commercially, in milk cartons for the dairy industry. 

At our Research Centres and Innovation Centre for Packaging in Helsinki, Finland, and together with our customers we’re innovating ways to make more durable, lighter, high-quality packaging out of less raw material, more efficiently. And to substitute nonrenewables such as plastics, metals and chemicals in applications like fast-food packaging, modified atmosphere packaging, liquid packaging, barrier coating films and more.

What have we seen thus far? MFC brings advantages in material efficiency, strength enhancement, lightweighting and renewable barrier materials.

Stronger, lighter packaging with less fibre

A tiny amount of microfibrillated cellulose goes a long way. By converting a small portion of wood pulp to MFC and mixing it into the mass, you can make paperboard with the same strength, opacity and brightness but use less fibre. The large surface area of MFC allows for stronger composites, saving weight and material.

MFC added in folding box board increases bonding strength. This way, you can use bulkier fibres to separate the outer layers more and achieve better overall stiffness of the board for any given grammage. So, with MFC you can make a stronger board or reduce the package’s total weight.

Effectively protects against oxygen and grease in barrier coating films

Besides using MFC for its mechanical strength, we can create coatings and films featuring excellent barrier properties to preserve aromas and to protect against gases like oxygen, and even grease and oil.

Imagine replacing plastic films in packaging. Or aluminium foil in long shelf-life packages. According to one of our customers, aluminum film carries as much as 50% of the CO2 footprint of their primary packaging material. So, by using bio-based MFC barrier films we could reduce the metal in billions of food and beverage products.

One small amount of MFC – one giant leap in resource efficiency!

Key benefits and potential end uses

Key benefits

  • 1

    Viable alternative to plastics and aluminum in packaging, helps to reduce carbon footprint

  • 2

    Does not contain fossil-fuel-based polymers or additives that are harmful to health, like phthalates or bisphenol A

  • 3

    100% biodegradable packaging material, sourced from a renewable resource

  • 4

    Preserves the flavour or scent of food, provides an excellent oxygen and grease barrier

  • 5

    Improved wet strength and dry strength in paper and multilayer packaging

Potential end uses and applications

  • 1

    Fast-food packaging, take-away packaging

  • 2

    Milk cartons, juice cartons and other liquid packaging

  • 3

    Food packaging

  • 4

    Candy and snacks packaging

  • 5

    Barrier films