June 22, 2020

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Food packaging

Vector image of food packaging alternatives
Finland offers food for thought when it comes to packaging alternatives.
Julia Bushueva

Finns have a reputation for being innovators in packaging, also for the highly competitive and rapidly evolving food industry.

In recent years, in an attempt to create viable alternatives to plastic products, many local companies have come up with unique packaging solutions that are not only functional and visually appealing, but also sustainable and eco-friendly.

These five Finnish companies know how to get food packaging right.

Koepala

This Helsinki-based company provides innovative and sustainable packaging solutions for takeaway and on-the-go food, and tackles one of the most pressing challenges that the modern, urbanising world is facing: waste pollution caused by single-use plastics.

Koepala’s devoted team of professionals has developed a patented eco-friendly and multi-purpose packaging solution called Aterimo. Made of plastic-free material, Aterimo is flat and rollable and thereby helps to significantly reduce storage space needs while providing a convenient and enjoyable meal experience.

“Our innovations aim at facilitating a move towards a waste-free fast-food culture, where the containers and raw materials are not reduced to waste but recycled one way or the other so that their value is preserved,” explained founder Janne Asikainen.

Woodly

Founded in 2011 to explore the possibility of developing a wood-based alternative to plastics, this Espoo-based cleantech company has come up with a novel carbon-neutral material that can be used for packaging food and everyday goods.

The innovation based on cellulose from sustainably managed forests gained international attention after it was placed high in a ranking by Bioplastic News, a publication that evaluates bioplastic companies and brands.

“We’re building the world’s first and most well known packaging materials brand, and five years from now we’ll be a globally recognised packaging materials brand – the first of its kind,” CEO Jaakko Kaminen declared in 2018.

Jospak

This startup from the town of Forssa has been helping the food industry to reduce both packaging and food waste since 2014. The company’s flagship product is a board-based tray that is fully recyclable and contains up to 85 per cent less plastic than its regular plastic counterparts.

Jospak’s solution for keeping food fresh with the smallest possible environmental footprint has been acknowledged both in Scandinavia and worldwide. Jospak has received a ScanStar 2018 Award from the Scandinavian Packaging Association and a WorldStar 2019 Award from the World Packaging Organisation.

“Reducing plastic and over-packaging is one of the great environmental challenges that we want to meet with our product,” stressed managing director Tarja Heikkilä.

Kotkamills

With a history going back as far as 1872, Kotkamills is now a game-changer that offers food service and packaging alternatives to disposables that contain plastic. The company’s key innovation is a water-based dispersion coating that creates an effective barrier layer for food packaging applications. The end products are plastic-free and fully recyclable.

In 2019, Kotkamills was recognised for its commitment to revolutionise paper cup production and recycling by being named one of the winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge, a global innovation initiative launched by the NextGen Consortium.

“Today, consumers and companies actively seek solutions that make the world less dependent on plastic,” said CEO Markku Hämäläinen. “We are thrilled by this opportunity to work with global brands in order to make a difference one cup at a time.”

Huhtamäki

This year, this food and drink packaging giant is celebrating 100 years of growth. Started by a village baker’s son in 1920, the business has evolved into a global packaging leader that operates in over 30 countries, including Australia, China, India, Russia and the US.

Huhtamäki’s state-of-the-art packaging solutions are recyclable, circular and sustainable. A good example is paper straws made from fibre sourced from sustainably managed forests and supplied to McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and across Europe.

Some of Hutamäki’s packaging solutions, like the Adtone smart cup, can also be used as a powerful marketing tool. Once a hot beverage is poured in, the heat-activated label on the paper cup reveals a QR code that gives consumers access to associated digital content.

“We know that our future growth will come from creating an ever-more positive impact on people and the planet while creating value to our customers and shareholders. We are ready for the next 100 years,” the company wrote in the recent blog post.

Text: Zhanna Koiviola

Originally published in January 2020

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