4 Innovative Molded Pulp Designs That Are Changing the Packaging Industry

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Molded pulp packaging reduces waste and costs, enhancing aesthetics and protection for food, electronics, beverages, and luxury items.

Specialty Food Containers

Molded pulp designs are quickly becoming the packaging of choice for specialty foods, reshaping how they reach consumers to be both more sustainable and appealing. One of the prominent examples includes packaging organic eggs in molded pulp cartons, with each molded pulp closure securely cradling the egg and providing better cushioning during transport. Traditional plastic or styrofoam cartons of eggs, accommodate for a carbon footprint of about 50g CO2 per carton. Based on industry analysis, this is cut down by 30% with molded pulp alternatives.

This material is increasingly used in fruit packaging as well. More and more supermarkets are opting to sell apples and pears in segmented trays made of molded pulp, which are biodegradable and reduce the weight of the product’s packaging by 25%. This means lower transportation costs and lower emissions. The use of molded pulp is highly cost-effective, with savings of 20% on material costs for bulk shipments. The segment of ready-to-eat meals is no exception, with restaurants and food suppliers increasingly using molded pulp containers for their food delivery service. These containers help control both moisture and heat and ensure that the meals arrive in the best condition. This is vital because the food delivery market is on the rise, with a 15% annual increase expected for the next five years. The adoption of molded pulp by a leading food service provider reduced the use of plastic by over 200 tons annually and lowered costs.

Such innovations are possible because of the characteristics of molded pulp, which can be dyed any color and shaped into anything. It takes advantage of a branding opportunity that many other forms of packaging do not offer, while also creating a combination of the two most important factors for the end consumer – form and function. Premium designs in molded pulp offer no significant material costs over their conventional plastic alternatives, but offer significant environmental benefits. That makes them a valuable tool for companies looking to bolster both their image and sustainability.


Electronics Packaging

The electronics industry is rapidly adopting molded pulp in packaging as more and more businesses seek to adopt sustainable practices and reduce their carbon footprint. Companies which specialize in consumer electronics, namely smartphones, laptops, and other portable data devices, appear to be spearheading its adoption. For instance, a prominent smartphone manufacturer shifted from foam packaging to molded pulp. As a result, the weight of the packaging material dropped by 80%, while the volume of packaging was reduced by 40%. The change boosted the shipping efficiency of the product, which directly reduces the overall cost and emissions associated with shipping. Also, the company reported a 10% drop in logistics costs directly due to the ultra-light, efficient packaging. Molded pulp packaging often includes a bevy of custom inserts and braces that ensure the device is positioned securely in place and does not move during transport. This is crucial for conserving the value of electronics, as even a minor scratch on a fresh gadget can result in massive, unrecoverable losses . It can be seen that the molded pulp retains the protective capabilities of the plastic foam packaging with an added protection against environmental impacts.

Using molded pulp, a tablet producer disclosed that the company’s usage of plastic packaging dropped by 70%. This was in line with the international effort to reduce the waste produced by disposable plastic products – an effort that the general public is increasingly aware of and that most people actively participate in. By contributing to the preservation of nature and its species, manufactures enhance the reputation of their brand in the market. The consumption of molded pulp on the part of electronics companies is further assisted by the fact that prices are typically not dissimilar from traditional plastic packaging, meaning that the cost is not a significant inhibitor of adoption. The same can generally be said about the price of manufacturing molds, as the cost can be recouped in the long term due to the reduced cost of material and waste.


Bottle Sleeves and Inserts

Molded pulp has taken its own place in the packaging of beverages, especially wine and spirits. The need for durable and heavy non-biodegradable foam Styrofoam is common for this sector, and they are inexpensive. However, the waste caused by this delivery system is vast, such as heavy waste from bottle packaging. Molded pulp sleeves and inserts are a good way to avoid solid waste and simultaneously protect the beverage during transportation. There are many successful examples of this packaging. An independent winery, which can isolate up to 80,000 cases of its most premium wines a year, has converted to molded pulp. Prior to the innovation, a special foam was used for packaging. Saving $ 1 million annually due to abolition of packing foam inserts, the winery experienced only a 1.5% breaking rates.products in Jones, 2017)

When production reached the level of 120,000 cases a year, and foam waste reached seven tons, the decision to innovate was more important Anderson, 2017). The company has reduced its material costs by 15 percent and shipping costs by 20 percent. The new delivery packaging concept has a positive effect on the image of green production of not only brewing but winemaking products. Molded pulp is simply a carrier material. Functionally, it is possible to organize the densified pulp to protect the product, because the product cannot contact the cardboard in the socket. When transporting bottle packs, their product is packed first in a full case, and then in a plastic bag, in additional boxes. But 18 breweries still break 2 percent of bottles in a shipment. An example of a company using molded pulp is Anchor Brewing – it reduced it to half a percent Anderson, 2017).

One more feature is the low environmental impact, caused by long-breakdown waste. Another point: the packaging industry benefits greatly from the embossed logos and on the surface. Produced in applied mold, it does not greatly affect the price. The company only incurs startup costs in the setup and molds. Further, this type of bottle packaging is not more expensive than other, less environmentally friendly options. The above examples show that using molded pulp is an optimal solution for packaging bottles of beverages.

Customizable Luxury Packaging

The luxury market does not only expect products to be the highest quality, but the way they are presented should also be flawless; therefore, molded pulp increasingly enters the scene as a combination of supreme luxury and sustainability. Molded pulp packaging is becoming a favorite for top-tier brands in both cosmetics, perfumery, and small electronic devices by combining impressive features and its eco-friendliness as a main footprint.

Recently, one luxury watchmaker redesigned its packaging with molded pulp for both sustainability and added luxury. The new molded pulp boxes not only were designed to imitate a soft leather finish but also to feature soft linings to the touch. To no one’s surprise, molded pulp still had roughly 30 percent lower cost than packaging from genuine leather that the watch factory used before. Despite a cheaper material, the new packaging, in this case, boosted the brand even further.

At the same time, a cosmetics brand, known for high quality of their products, began using molded pulp for packaging their foundations and lipsticks. The molded pulp was, still, enhanced with custom devils and finishing that would remind the brand’s parties. The cosmetics brand also used gold foiling and added a velvety texture on the molded pulp’s surface to show for a luxurious feel. The companies’ packaging cost was cut by 25 percent. In addition, now they use 55 tons or more of plastic less per year.

In addition to being a valuable tool to customize in other ways, molded pulp for products intended for mature people’s use is being dyed with the company’s specific shade in mind. For example, the skincare company I interned at used molded pulp boxes that were dyed in the color that precisely matched the corporate identity and was found nowhere else. Another excellent feature is that molded pulp can be dyed without harming its price, rendering it far more consistent for each of the brand’s future uses. Finally, the flexible and sturdy material that is demonstrated to be just as shock-absorbent as its more newfangled plastic versions raises no issues when protecting valuables; it is inarguably quite effective.

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