Barilla pulps pasta into paper

12-Dec-2013 - By Fiona Barry
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Barilla has partnered with a Venetian paper manufacturer to turn the Italian food giant’s pasta into stationery.

Favini claims its Crush line is the world’s first paper made from recycled corn, kiwis, olives, coffee beans and other foods.

It started creating paper out of Barilla’s waste by-products in October, said Chris Brown, Favini marketing director for Europe.

We’re using husks that result from making pasta inside the paper, about 17.5% by content.

The organic materials make up 15% of the paper and Favini markets them as a green alternative to wood pulp.

Barilla is using Crush paper for all its marketing materials, press releases, the notebooks it uses inside its organisation. It thinks Crush is very much in line with its environmental ethos.”

Chocolate packaging

Barilla’s retail packaging did not lend itself to Favini’s organic paper, said Brown, but other food companies have adopted Crush for their products; “There are some small boutique chocolate-makers that have started using it.

Crush will be on show at Frankfurt Paperworld in January 2014 as well as next year’s Luxe Pack and Pack and Gift.

Demand for the recycled paper which reduces carbon footprint by a fifth has tripled the company’s original forecasts, said Chris Brown, Favini marketing director for Europe:

We thought with the depth of the crisis and recession in Europe, the environment would be less high profile but our perception is it remains a very important  area for many companies. 

Garbage gets ‘another five lives’

The company never uses food materials that could still be eaten, only waste products, said Brown.

We’re working with people who have this supply available at an industrial level.

It’s come to the end of its life and three things can happen to it: it’s sold as animal feed – as filler rather than for nutrition, or it’s turned into bio-pallets and incinerated, or it’s put back onto the land to compost.

Crush claims to reduce environmental impact by a fifth compared to other speciality papers.

We’ve got some evaluations which say by using our product, we’re reducing the carbon footprint by 20% on a like-for-like product,” said Brown.

We’re substituting 15% of cellulose and filler materials, and we’re using 30% post-consumer waste from recycled paper. Then we use another 55% of virgin fiber but that is FSC-certified. We need that virgin fibre to give strength properties to the paper.

Typically paper can be recycled five times before it turns to dust, meaning Crush paper extends the lifespan of unwanted materials, said Brown. “Something that might have been burnt gets another five opportunities. At the end it can be incinerated or turned into cardboard boxes.

As well as carbon footprint, water consumption is a less-discussed but important environmental impact, said Favini’s marketing director.

Embedded water is not very stressed by people as a benefit. We have a pretty low water consumption, at 20l/kg of paper produced. The Confederation of European Paper Industries indicates the industry standard for speciality paper is 34l/kg.

We’re now aiming to reduce by another 25% in the next 2 years.” 

Venice’s seaweed problem

The idea for making paper out of fruits and vegetables was inspired by an earlier design which made use of excess seaweed growing in endangered environments, said Brown:

Twenty years ago we worked with the government of Venice to help them solve a problem with algae in the Venice lagoon. We took the algae and put it into paper called Shiro Alga Carta. It worked because algae are cellulose.

About two years ago we started to think this was something we should take further so the CEO, product management and I played around with various materials to see if we could use the waste from various agricultural materials, like corn and citrus.

We discovered we could blend them into paper. You need a slightly different process, so we updated our patent.

“Next we did market research with goods designers in Milan and London and we launched a deluxe pack in 2012 – where we won the Luxe Pack ‘In Green’ awards.

The company says it is currently “working on ideas to take the product further forward,” but was keeping the project under wraps.

Related topics: Processing, Ambient Grocery, Packaging Technology, Europe