From Design to Production

Thermofibre logo tf only with space

Companies across the globe are looking for sustainable solutions for their product line. Some may need cushion packaging for freight purposes and some may be looking for an entirely new design that is environmentally friendly. Either way, there is a common goal to use less non-recyclable EPS and if possible, move into a 100% foam free application that will accommodate the product successfully.

This DOESN’T Happen Overnight

This process does not happen overnight. As with most everything, change takes time, patience and a strong foundation of engineering and design. For an example of the processes involved, let’s review making a switch from EPS (expanded polystyrene) to a molded fiber recyclable design. Points that must be considered are;

  • Material – closed cell EPS to a porous molded pulp. EPS packaging relies on product density for cushioning, molded pulp uses structure for cushioning. One can achieve the same cushion or better in the given carton space. However, engineering experience and expertise are required to design the right geometry
  • EPS packaging has typically very low and in some cases no draft angled. Draft angles refers to slant of the part so that it can be removed from the tool.  Molded pulp parts have 5 to 7 degrees of draft so that the wet pulp part slides out of the tool; another design factor in developing a replacement pulp part.
  • Weight of the product – The weight of the product will determine the type of pulp needed to keep the product safe during transport. There are different types of pulp which most commonly are referred to as Type 1,2 or 3.  The difference between them are distinguished by the outside look and feel, wall thickness and particulate that results from any friction that may result from the freight experience.

In addition, the banning of expanded polystyrene (EPS) beads, coolers and Styrofoam food containers has been put into place in the state of California as of November 1, 2020, according to Californians Against Waste. Other cities following suit are New York, Miami Beach, Seattle and Washington D.C. On even a larger scale, European countries are setting ambitious standards to ban items made of EPS. The council is planning for guidelines to be implemented over the next ten years and have one plan for all countries to follow for a circular economy. This is a commendable bold action and one that is relevant for our world.

In conclusion, the sustainable solution may take time, increased monetary budgets and precise design and engineering efforts to move through the process. However, in the end, the result of having an eco-friendly product that takes an active role in a circular economy is most definitely worth the time spent.