Expertise

May 29, 2024

Packaging materials: Our flexible strategy to target category growth

From shopping bags to food wrapping, paper is making its presence felt in a growing number of packaging applications. And with technological advances enabling an impressive range of mechanical and aesthetic properties, it’s no wonder that more and more packaging manufacturers are turning to this highly versatile material. And SWM is committed to supporting the industry with an expanding range of paper-based solutions.

“Packaging materials have been playing an increasingly important role in SWM International’s portfolio for the past 5 years,” explains Philippe Ragot, VP for Advanced and Natural Fibers (ANAF). “Thanks to our proven expertise in producing ultralightweight flexible papers, we’ve had impressive success with solutions ranging from drinking straw wrappers for fast food restaurants, where we’re the market leader in the US, to sterilizable medical packaging, introduced in Brazil in 2021. And as we enter the next phase of our growth journey, we’re ready to realize our full potential in this area.”

A clearly superior solution

The latest step in the evolution of SWM’s packaging materials strategy is an innovation that promises to unlock an even wider range of applications. The key? Translucency. One of the main reasons why plastic has become such a popular packaging material is its capacity for transparency, which makes it perfect for wrapping items that still need to be visible to shoppers: think of the plastic film that protects cigarette packs, for example. And paper packaging has struggled to compete in these applications – until now, that is.

“One of the developments I’m most excited about is a new ultra-thin product that’s set to provide a viable paper-based alternative to clear plastic wrapping,” continues Philippe. “Starting with the same fiber-cutting techniques we use to produce our see-through roll-your-own papers at our St. Girons site, our R&D teams used sustainable chemicals to increase the translucency even further – resulting in a highly flexible paper wrapper that allows you to clearly see the product underneath. Barcodes can even be read through it.”

Strategic flexibility

Another key feature of the solution is its conformability – which means that it can be fitted to a wide variety of products and applications, from DVDs and cosmetics to dry cleaning wrapping. And this unique quality is an integral part of SWM International’s wider value proposition in the packaging industry. “Whether it’s our oil- and grease-resistant food wrap or our papers for medical pouches, flexibility is a core differentiator of our offering,” adds Philippe. “By focusing on flexible paper-based wrapping, we can carve out a niche as a strategic partner to support the industry in its transition away from plastic packaging in flexible applications.”

A coordinated offering

The next step, however, is to develop a market-ready version of the translucent wrapper. Tests have started with end-users, converters, and machinery manufacturers to ensure that the product works for them. And this spirit of proactive innovation is setting the tone for SWM’s future in packaging materials. “We’re going to be developing our packaging portfolio more systematically, which will put us in a much better position to meet emerging market needs,” concludes Philippe. “By creating and communicating on a consolidated, comprehensive and global offering, we’ll be able to apply our expertise to the markets and applications where it will have the greatest impact.”