The potential for considerable market growth has been identified for using recycled paper fibre in moulded paper pulp (MPP).
Following research by PendlePace on behalf of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) it was found that a strong but niche market currently exists, but if technical and perception barriers could be addressed, this would increase greatly.
The UK is currently one of the highest per capita consumers of MPP in Europe, utilising between 45,000 and 55,000 tonnes per annum, mainly in egg packaging, medical applications, industrial uses and food/fruit packaging.
However, a range of technical barriers were also identified during the study that are limiting the use of recycled content. These include technological weakness of product design, the energy inefficient de-watering involved in the production process and market perception of moulded pulp.
But if these could be overcome, with a UK or European trade association suggested to promote market/product development and provide technical resource for the MPP industry, the potential for considerable growth remains.
WRAP paper technical manager David Powlson said: “With reviews of Europe, US and China, we believe this report is the most comprehensive study of the moulded pulp market undertaken.
“Based on existing technology, market growth predictions are modest, but if technical advancements can be made then the growth potential for this inherently environmental packaging is considerable.”
Other key issues in the markets evolution were found to be the implementation of successful case studies to demonstrate benefits and raise awareness, significant energy efficiency improvements, improved wet-pressing techniques and the transition to a post-consumer recovered fibre based industry.