8 characteristics of molded pulp containers

Table of Contents

Cost-effective and eco-friendly, molded pulp containers utilize recycled materials, reducing shipping costs by 20% and energy consumption by 30% in production.

Material Composition

Molded pulp containers are environmentally friendly, as their material used in production determines this property. The containers are fabricated mainly from recycled fiber, such as paper and cardboard. This not only helps to reduce the amount of waste but also requires less energy than materials manufacturing. For example, 40% less energy is consumed in making paper pulp from recycled paper than from fresh materials. There is a tendency in the market, due to the ubiquitous environmental issues, as companies producing massive amounts of waste choose more sustainable packaging solutions. In this context, IKEA and McDonald’s are among such companies, using molded pulp for specific packaging solutions. IKEA uses this material to package fragile products, which are packed in recycled molded pulp, also making fiber-based containers fully recyclable and recycled, closing the life cycle of the products.

It is also popular to produce molded pulp from natural fibers, such as sugarcane bagasse, bamboo, or wheat straw, as they are very quickly renewable and do not interfere with food-related resources. For instance, after harvesting, sugarcane or bamboo quickly pours out, providing excellent sustainable resources with these properties. Also, containers made from sugarcane bagasse can be composted in just 90 days, which is the opposite of plastic waste, as they can decompose in hundreds of years. The material also affects the useful properties of the product’s final result, e.g., coffee cup trays or one-time-use food containers are made of a combination of bamboo and sugarcane fibers. This mixture of materials provides resistance to mechanical and moisture with the necessary composting properties. Such packaging solutions help companies significantly reduce their carbon footprint. For example, by reducing the use of plastic in the production of pulp packaging, a fast-food chain can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per package by up to 50%.


Biodegradability and Compostability

Environmental accomplishment of molded pulp containers is principally given by their biodegradability and compostability. In different words, molded pulp containers can almost totally change into natural components in compost settings, thus, depending on molded pulp packaging permits to avoid the buildup of solid waste over hundreds of years within the case of their disposal in a garbage dump alongside, for example, polystyrene or PET-based containers. A superb example of such use of molded pulp materials is a frequent use of this type of packaging for preparing and serving food in music festivals.

As soon as the festival is over, tons of molded pulp plates, bowls, and pricing tickets used for vending can be collected and composted or transformed into valuable compost to improve the state of soil, instead of becoming solid waste at landfills or spoiling the visual appeal of street garbage collection sites. For example, only after a one-day-long festival for about 100,000 people, it was possible to divert almost 9,500 kilograms of organic and inorganic waste from landfills employed for serving 70,000 meals. It should be said that the majority of the tested molded pulp products already meet the BPI compostability criteria, which was, for example, verified by the BPI for products’ decomposition in commercial composting conditions. In this study, which also analyzed the decomposition of five other types of packaging, molded pulp packaging almost disappeared by 180 days, decomposing by approximately 98 %. At the same time, typical plastic containers showed essentially no signs of decomposition process.

43 Sustainability

The sustainability of molded pulp containers is evident in the materials and processes, in particular in the production and disposal of these parts. The primary materials used to produce molded pulp are recycled paper and agricultural waste, both readily available, abundant, and renewable. Sugarcane bagasse, an agricultural waste material, is one of the materials now used to create new products, therefore eliminating the need for as much virgin paper pulp. Secondly, the materials used in manufacturing molded pulp use less energy in their creation than the virgin materials of their traditional paper or plastic counterparts. Remarkably, the creation of a ton of molded pulp utilises about a quarter less energy than a ton of conventional plastic packaging. The number of greenhouse gasses released during the creation of plastic is multiplied to show that molded pulp releases significantly fewer of these agents than other materials. The energy expenditure is a similar case in the point, as the number is reduced twofold. Major retailers making significant contributions to global warming have the proof of significant results, showing that switching to molded pulp for their operation decreased the packaging waste by slightly more than 30% across their network.

Specifically, the results of reduction of waste and energy use in other materials, making a substantial proportion of trash and the level of carbon emissions produced is found in the high-volume retail operations of shipping. Since their implementation of molded pulp to ship their products, Amazon was able to come out with reports on their waste. The products do not require additional materials to create compartments.woocommerce评论事后分析,因幻灯片维度和滑块谷歌文档没有摘要限制不足.u补secondary. The form of the paper material is also conducive to barring at least some of the greenhouse gases created by transportation. Molded pulp is easily and narrowly optimized for stacking and spreading on the floor of a truck, keeping between 15-92% more of the products under the same plane than would a traditional carton. This means that the trucks used to transport the retail products can carry more items, making fewer trips, which emits fewer greenhouse gases into the air.

Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process of molded pulp containers is fairly eco-friendly and cost-efficient. It is a technique that utilizes minimal steps to form an end product, and relatively low energy expenditure. The manufacturing process usually starts with hydrating recycled paper products or agricultural byproducts to create a mixed slurry. The slurry is composed of water and fiber, and serves as the main ‘ingredient’ in the formation of the containers. Next, the manufacturers utilize vacuum forming technology to shape the slurry into desired forms. Here, the fiber-water mixture, still referred to as slurry, is placed into predetermined molds.

These molds are fitted precisely to the requirements of the final container model. The vacuum method ensures the equal distribution of fibers across the molds, which in turn adds structural integrity and reduces material wastage. The next step of the process implies drying the product at a certain temperature to evaporate the excess water. This step is critical, as it solidifies the shape and adds strength to the container. Modern drying technologies recycle heat back into the system, greatly reducing energy expenditure. In some cases reports indicate that the energy expenditure for the drying process has fallen to twenty percent of the initial expenditure. The final step is unusual and is defined by the specific use of the container. It usually involves simple measures, such as pressing the container or adding an outer layer, to increase durability and water resistance. In addition, the final stage often features steps to increase the structural strength of the containers.


Durability and Protection

Molded pulp containers are recognized for their remarkable strength and outstanding protection qualities. They are commonly used for packaging highly fragile and sensitive items. On the one hand, these types of containers are also notable for being better at absorbing impact than most other materials used for transportation and handling. This characteristic makes molded pulp items an even more appealing material for packaging sensitive materials. The strength of molded pulp is derived from the dense web of fibrous materials that make it up. One highly efficient way to capitalize on this attribute would be to use the bulk material to ship electronics or glass items that could benefit from the extra protection of a shock absorbent packing material. For instance, if a consumer electronics company wanted to pack some of its products using a molded pulp insert, they could use a molded pulp insert to hold a smartphone or tablet in the box. Experiments have shown that the items packed in molded pulp types of packaging are substantially less likely to face breakage during transportation. Often, the protection levels are estimated to eliminate product breakage by as much as seventy percent against the rates of using a traditional clamshell made from plastic.

In addition, the molded packaging design readily allows for perfectly fitting designs that can house a product without wiggling and without being in danger of slightly moving in an oversize package. This translates into more efficient uses of the space occupied by the target product. The compactness of the containers can also be expected to reduce the amount of materials. In addition to that, molded pulp is also very durable even in the harshest climates. The strength of molded pulp remains unaffected regardless of humidity or breaks that can take place during shipping or storage. A possible application could be shipping wine in molded pulp trays over long distances – the containers go from a humid warehouse, to a cold, dry plane hold, to a humid kitchen without risking humidity weakened degradation that could occur in carton holders.

Customization and Versatility

One of the most outstanding features of molded pulp containers is the level of versatility and customization they provide to customers. As proven on multiple occasions, the manufacturing process is optimized for high levels of customization because of the specific nature of pulp molding. Molding allows for significant precision in mold creation and high detail in mold design. Ultimately, the manufacturer is capable of creating a mold tailored to fit any product size or shape. Thus, the items ranging from egg cartons to electronic device packaging may benefit from the utilization of molded pulp. One such example of customization is a company that decided to transport organic fruits and invested in molded pulp packaging to realize this purpose. However, the potential of the packaging formed by the pulp was not limited to the provision of a safe travel vehicle – it was also embossed with the brand’s logo and information about the product. Packaged in natural environments, the fruits will now serve as a considerably more efficient marketing method as there is no need for additional labeling of the product.

The variety of uses of the material does not stop at alternative form and purpose. Depending on fiber mixture and the density of the pulp, the primary component of packaging can be used for a variety of other purposes. For instance, some products, where the detailed protection of the transported objects is not as essential as the firm packaging, use a lighter material of which the pulp is composed. In turn, it is less materially demanding and costly. On the other hand, products often use the pulp of a higher density and smoother texture for more premium customers. They serve to create a better look and provide better protection for the object inside. On the other hand, selected retail chains with a preference for environmentally friendly products might focus on the product’s moldable pulp qualities. Therefore, the chain of coffee shops likely will choose to use insulated molded pulp cups that are safe for the environment.


Thermal Insulation

Molded pulp provides outstanding thermal insulation characteristics; thus, it can be a perfect solution for packaging perishable goods. These capabilities come from the air pockets in the fibrous structure of the pulp, ultimately reducing the transfer of heat and ensuring the stability of the temperature inside it. For example, in the food delivery industry, molded pulp can be used to create beverage carriers or food trays. They keep hot drinks warm and cold drinks cold, allowing the customers to enjoy the delivery service to the fullest. A coffee shop may also order cold drink cup holders that keep the coffee warm enough to be still drinkable by the time it is delivered. Moreover, this aspect is even more crucial for some specialized applications, such as pharmaceuticals. If medications need to be kept at a certain temperature, molded pulp packaging will ensure they remain within the acceptable range during their shipping. For instance, vaccines and biologics may lose their therapeutic properties if exposed to either too high or too low temperatures.

Molded pulp performs considerably well at thermal insulation tests compared to EPS with a considerably lower ecological footprint. Cold testing shows that EPS can keep temperatures of up to 60°F for 72 hours, while molded paper holds them for 48 hours, which is still suitable for most hot or normal products. Overall, moist visiting crawlers and other kinds of salamanders or snakes are much easier to ship when no additional ice requirements are present.


Molded pulp containers possess an exceptionally high cost-effectiveness. The first reason behind their cost-effectiveness is the use of cheap raw materials and the efficiency of their manufacturing techniques. First and foremost, the main materials molded pulp is made of recycled paper, cardboard, and even agricultural waste. All of these materials are significantly cheaper than different types of plastics and other synthetic materials. This factor is key for businesses as they are capable of maintaining low production expenses while also using a green packaging solution. Another essential factor that increases the cost-effectiveness of molded pulp is the containers’ weight. If a usual shipping container is filled with molded pulp packaging and packed with shipping materials like carton and plastic, its weight is significantly lower than a shipping container filled solely with traditional plastic packaging. The result is a reduced amount of needed fuel and decreased transportation costs. Retailing companies report a 20% in costs for product shipping. Molded pulp production techniques are also much simpler than plastic manufacturing. While there are several dozen steps used to make plastic with the involvement of a significant number of chemicals and machinery, molded pulp production only requires cleaning, mashing, and heat press drying. This simplicity, as well as a reduced amount of processes, lower energy usage and costs of electricity and heating. One production of 100 tons of molded pulp per month reduces energy use by up to 30%. Finally, molded pulp can be added to a general recycling stream. There are no additional expenses such as sorting or special disposal methods. Businesses will also not need specially-equipped waste stations as municipal trucks will be collecting the material that can be processed in a standard recycling plant.

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