With Koehler NexPlus®, the Koehler Group is meeting the rapidly growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions and this extends beyond just the food industry. Within the framework of an extensive sustainability project, Südzucker is changing all of its packaging to 100% recyclable solutions over the coming years. As part of this, Südzucker has changed the packaging material of its sugar sticks to Koehler NexPlus® Seal paper.
In 2021 sustainability has long ceased to be a niche topic, translating instead into a competitive advantage. Sustainable aspects are playing an increasingly important role in the consumer decision-making process. Today, a large number of people are questioning their own consumer behaviour and placing greater importance on sustainability when shopping. Retail is reacting to these changes in consumer behaviour and is enhancing its sustainable product offering, with the term ‘sustainability’ no longer simply restricted to the product but also shining a spotlight on the product packaging itself.
Koehler’s barrier paper as a sustainable packaging solution
Koehler NexPlus® paper is characterised by its barrier coating with various capabilities. In particular, these include barriers for aroma, grease, oil, water vapour or gases, which combine with the paper’s inherent capabilities such as high strength properties and a natural feel to create a strong overall concept. The paper really delivers in terms of the primary purposes of packaging to protect the contents and their surroundings as well as provide excellent processing properties.
Südzucker sets itself target of 100% recyclability for its packaging
Südzucker has historically prioritised using resources in a responsible way, with one of the company’s objectives to steadily reduce the resource requirements and environmental impact of its business activities. Within the framework of an extensive sustainability project, all packaging will change to 100% recyclable solutions over the coming years. Südzucker’s Research, Development, and Service division food technology manager Tillmann Dörr outlines: “Right at the very start, we sat down together with Koehler and established the must-have features that the packaging needed to include. Food packaging often ticks more boxes than is strictly necessary.” Südzucker carried out a range of stress tests on samples of Koehler NexPlus® in order to verify the general product claims. These were followed by qualification tests on the existing packaging lines. “One of our requirements was for the new paper to be used on our existing packaging machines, with the same processing time and efficiency. With Koehler Nex-Plus® Seal 45 gsm, we’ve found the optimal solution,” continues Tillmann Dörr.
The advantage of Koehler’s NexPlus® barrier paper is that it is manufactured from sustainable raw materials. These materials can be fully fed back into the recycling loop, in operation for paper in many countries worldwide and also embraced by consumers. Koehler’s Flexible Packaging Paper Division director Eckhard Kallies stresses: “Barrier paper is part of our future vision. Paper has an increasing number of capabilities that in the past only plastic could offer. And the difference with paper is that it has a much more sustainable life cycle.” An analysis of the life cycle of Koehler’s flexible packaging paper shows a significant reduction of CO₂ compared to conventional PE-coated paper and even plastic duplex products.
Another advantage of using Koehler NexPlus® for Südzucker’s sugar sticks is that the material has a lower grammage than the company’s previous solution. As a result, Südzucker is fulfilling its commitment to sustainability in two ways, not only by using sustainable packaging products but also by using fewer resources in the process.
Südzucker switches sugar stick packaging in just four months
After passing the qualification phase and initial test quantities, all of the sugar stick packaging was changed over to Koehler NexPlus® after just a four-month test period. “By switching to a fully recyclable packaging solution, we’re meeting the goal we set ourselves on the one hand and responding to the tangible demand from our customers on the other,” adds Südzucker’s Tillmann Dörr. “Open and rapid communication was ultimately crucial for the swift implementation of this project, as was close coordination with Koehler”. The new sugar sticks have been in stores across Germany since late February 2021.