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Ronald Borst (Paardekooper) on paper flowpacks:

"For businesses aiming to reduce their plastic usage, we offer CartoPaper as a viable alternative"

Ronald Borst has been working at the Royal Paardekooper Group since 1981. In the early days, he was primarily involved in print preparation. Not much later, he became responsible for the packaging assortment, especially for potato growers. He refers to this period as "pioneering," resulting in him becoming the expert in the field of fresh produce packaging. Ronald was closely involved in the introduction of CartoPaper, a paper packaging solution for, among others, potatoes, onions, and flower bulbs, which optimally preserves the harvested quality.

You describe your early period at Paardekooper, then known as Van der Windt Packaging, as a pioneering time. Can you elaborate on this?

New regulations and requirements for sorting and packaging agricultural products were introduced. This initiated the search for the most ideal packaging solution, a quest that never stops, as laws and requirements regularly change, and technological innovations lead to new insights and possibilities. From my position, I have been closely involved in new developments. Eight years ago, I came into contact with the inventor of CartoPaper. I had been visiting this producer for years, and together we further developed the product under the Paardekooper banner and launched it in the market.

What exactly does packaging with CartoPaper entail?

CartoPaper as a material is not new, but its application on a roll for fully automatic processing is. Thanks to this invention, paper has similar packaging possibilities as foil, with several advantages. For example, the wet-strength paper prevents dehydration, and the material is naturally breathable and light-proof. The latter ensures that the products discolor less quickly than they would in plastic foil. CartoPaper ensures that the harvested quality of fresh produce is optimally preserved, resulting in less food waste. Another advantage is that CartoPaper is suitable for fully automatic form, fill, and seal machines. Special machines exist for this purpose, but CartoPaper can also run excellently on existing machines for plastic foils after a minor adjustment. Thanks to a water-based spot coating, CartoPaper can also be sealed. The proportion of this material is less than 5%, so it completely disappears during the recycling process. Therefore, CartoPaper is approved as a mono-material and can be disposed of with the waste paper after use.

CartoPaper is light-proof. Good for the fresh products, but this also means 'opaque', while consumers prefer to see fresh products. How do you deal with this?

Developments in this area are ongoing. Initially, we opted for punching holes in the packaging. But of course, this affects the quality and strength of the packaging. Our latest invention is a net made of cellulose fibers. These fibers are reinforced with a special coating. The proportion of this material is so low that the CartoPaper packaging is still accepted as a mono packaging and can be fully recycled. This also represents the most significant environmental benefit of CartoPaper compared to plastic. That's also why we opt for a net structure and not a window at this stage. A window means a larger surface and thus more coating. A larger proportion of coating is considered 'ordinary foil' according to EU guidelines, and then we're back to square one. As you can see, the search always continues.

You mention that the environmental advantage of CartoPaper lies especially in its end-of-life. Can you explain?

Certainly! We conducted a shortened LCA comparing different packaging materials for this application in terms of material use, energy, water consumption, and end-of-life. It is now known that the production of paper packaging typically requires more water and energy. In this respect, CartoPaper does not perform better than traditional foil. However, when it comes to the use of raw materials and end-of-life, CartoPaper scores much better. The paper bags are made from 100% renewable resources and are fully recyclable. The first version of CartoPaper was made from FSC-certified wood. But since the felling of trees evokes negative connotations among many people, we have been looking for new sources. The latest development in this area is CartoPaper made from hemp fibers, a by-product of German hemp cultivation, which, by the way, is not grown for weed. After more than 1.5 years of testing, we have succeeded in creating a 'tree-free' paper type that comes reasonably close to the current paper quality.

What promotional opportunities does CartoPaper offer?

Paper is excellent for printing. Virtually anything up to a realistic photo print is possible. This means you can create a striking shelf presentation. It's worth mentioning that we can control and regulate the number of lumens penetrating the packaging through printing colors. We previously discussed that consumers like to see fresh products. The UK shows a different trend. More and more companies are opting for a closed bag with a realistic photo print, so customers can form an image of the contents. Seeing is believing might not fully apply, but this demonstrates the complexity of our profession. Rules, laws, functional requirements, and consumers' wishes and perceptions... Numerous factors play a role in the quest for the ideal packaging. It's our task to find the ideal balance in this, together with our partners and customers. For companies wanting to use less plastic, we offer CartoPaper as a good alternative to traditional foils. If you want to know which option is best suited for your company with regard to quality preservation, efficient processing, and a lower environmental impact, we can explore this further together.

For more information:
Ronald Borst
Paardekooper B.V.
Tel: +31 174 636218
[email protected]

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