RH Fibreboard successfully creates cardboard made from crop waste, and its now available for purchase.

Published - 22nd Aug 2023

The video footage taken in June 2022 and January 2023 in this blog post are the first production images of their kind in the UK.

Across the globe, cardboard producers are carrying out sustainability projects, trying to make cardboard from substances other than paper-based materials. Over the past year, we have been trying something quite special off our own Corrugator running materials predominantly made out of sugar cane waste. The good news is that our trials have been successful, and we are now in full production.

Paper and cardboard as a packaging type already have incredible credentials of being a renewable, reusable, recyclable and compostable resource. This exciting new partnership with EnvoPAP and Test Valley Packaging extends a sustainable offering that’s already there. Exploring, producing and marketing the supply of environmental packaging types with a lower carbon footprint, and supporting farmers from developing communities in India, truly supports a circular economy.

These were the first reels of agricultural waste products to be put on a corrugator, the first sheets of cardboard produced, and the first boxes to be printed and cut in the United Kingdom. We now join manufacturers from Germany and Poland with this capability.

This sustainability journey began at the end of 2021 when a long-standing client of ours (Test Valley Packaging) approached and asked us if we were interested in a potential partnership with a business that had subsequently approached them regarding products made of Agricultural waste from India (EnvoPAP).

Our own sustainability projects over the last few years have seen the introduction of FSC®, corn-starch-based varnishes from our ink suppliers, tree planting with schools, commitment to using more 100% recycled papers, more energy efficient waste conveyors in the factory and purifying our waste ink/water from our machines on site.

Although we are always ready for our next sustainability project, to add to the above – initially we felt the idea of making cardboard that wasn’t paper-based, out of arable farm waste was not only a bit pie in the sky but possibly a challenge too large for our facility in Somerset. Especially when the R&D budgets in market-leading packaging businesses stretch a lot further. However, businesses large, medium, or small don’t need to be market leaders to promote change. The benefits of being flexible adaptable and in control of our own processes, meant the decision would be to drive this forward very quickly, especially because of the environmental importance over and above anything else.

Work is currently being done to establish and qualify the carbon footprint impact of this new material, but we fully anticipate it to play a huge role in our own Pathway to Net Zero plans, with a material that potentially has a much lower impact on the environment.

Steve Gabell, Sales Director said: ‘Since the trials commenced last year, the material reels have taken very well in terms of making fluted cardboard. The liners adhere well to each other, and the board runs through flexo-printing, die-cutting and glueing and all conversion processes, as well as standard paper types, do, if not better. The board is strong in comparison to standard kraft and test papers, and already we are looking to launch a single wall grade which will give us the strongest Single Wall b flute board we have ever been able to offer in-house. This could potentially mean a grade that can be offered as an alternative to some lighter grades of double wall, with all the sustainability advantages” He continued “This spring and summer has seen a huge amount of interest and conversion of this interest into trial orders, and whilst lead times are longer than on traditional paper reels – early available volumes are being snapped up by major companies and brand owners as we move into full production. Efficiencies through the supply chain will improve and availability will get better once the material is on site, lead times from us are there usually 5-7 working days. It’s encouraging to see so many businesses recognising the advantages of this launch, and proactively enquiring about potential supply.”

Over the next few months, we will be releasing more information about the social, environmental and ethical potential this new product has – and it is significant. We will also let you know when, where and how you can purchase it, how we got to where we are with this new venture and our plans going forward as we continue to do our bit to help protect our planet.

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