Growth through customer-focused development
New product developments demand new processes to enable us to deliver innovations in the most economical and ecologically-responsible way. Mondi’s Research and Development (R&D) Innovation Centres and all R&D-related activities focus on further developing products and optimising processes. Strategic partnerships enable us to anticipate market trends and new technologies.
Terra Bag - Bag to Nature
Terra Bag is a biodegradable industrial bag with humidity protection that can be equipped with an Easy Seal valve - the first of its kind to be developed. It is certified according to EN 13432, a European standard for the composting and biodegradation of packaging.
“Innovation in the Mondi E&I Industrial Bags business is driven both externally and internally,” explains Christina Fadler, its Marketing Communications Manager. “Externally by specific customer requests and internally by our engineers, researchers and product specialists who all come up with ideas on how to improve a bag.”
There are specific mechanisms in place for customers to provide their feedback. A customer satisfaction survey is carried out every two years and any feedback is communicated back to the customer.
Consumer market trends clearly show the increasing importance of product sustainability and the growing emphasis on brand awareness, and we work together with our internal and external stakeholders to achieve this.
The sales and marketing team is always involved from the early stages of the innovation process to make sure that the marketing strategy is developed in tandem with the product and that all the necessary promotional material is available when the product is ready to be launched. “A successful product launch is based on the collaboration of all those involved in its development - sales and marketing, product specialists, application engineers and finance, and even across our business units. If any challenges occur we can solve them on a case-to-case basis, working together on a solution,” says Christina.
ProVantage Baywhite is a premium-quality uncoated white top kraftliner produced at Mondi Richards Bay, South Africa. It is made of 100% virgin kraft fibre, which guarantees a superior appearance for high-quality printing. This high quality is at the heart of how Mondi markets the product. “It has a bright surface and good printability for high quality printing on container packaging products. It’s known as a decorative paper, meaning its print qualities are superior for customers who need to advertise their products on the outside of the container,” says Nick Cook, head of sales, marketing and logistics at the Richards Bay mill.
Customers provide feedback to Mondi through a number of channels: sales representatives; technical service visits; customer visits to the mill; and through the customer survey. In terms of proactive product development, a good level of understanding and communication between the sales and marketing specialists and the sustainability/environmental professionals is critical.
The sustainability of ProVantage Baywhite specifically, is a major selling point. It is part of Mondi’s Green Range, FSC™ Chain-of-Custody certified and is fully recyclable and biodegradable.
The requirements of composite materials are changing. Our primary customers, such as converters and manufacturers, demand polymers that are not only strong and stable but that can also be customised and preferably obtained from a sustainable source. “It was in response to this changing environment that Mondi launched FIBROMER® at the beginning of 2013,” says Daniel Schwarzbach, head of R&D for kraft paper at Mondi E&I.
FIBROMER® is a polymer reinforced with cellulose fibre. The polymer is made up of kraft pulp (a renewable resource) and a polymer granule. This means that pulp fibres, traditionally used for making paper, are mixed into the plastic, making FIBROMER® more sustainable, stronger, thicker, less flexible and lighter. These advantages also make it possible to customise FIBROMER® to the needs of our customers, depending on the application for which it is needed.
Whilst launched in 2013, Mondi first started researching and developing FIBROMER® more than 10 years ago. Partnerships with the scientific community were particularly important during this process. “Mondi’s kraft paper business unit lacked sufficient in-depth knowledge of plastic injection moulding, so a specialist plastics company came up with a customised solution. Mondi now owns this technology,” explains Daniel. Partnerships with our primary customers - especially in the automotive industry - were also invaluable.
“FIBROMER® is a green alternative to existing solutions. It involves a larger proportion of renewable materials (kraft pulp fibre), and offers extended end-of-life options. FIBROMER® is also suitable for energy generation through incineration as it is fully combustible - a very important feature in the automotive industry, one of our most important markets.”
ProVantage Kraftliner Aqua
ProVantage Kraftliner Aqua was first launched into the market in 2007. After careful monitoring of its end-use applications and incorporating feedback from our customers, we re-launched the product in 2013 with improved functionality, sustainability and quality. ProVantage Kraftliner Aqua is water resistant for at least three days (currently the only available grade in Europe to meet this requirement), a feature important for our customers who use the product primarily for packaging food. There has been a strong increase in the demand for sustainable packaging for fruit, vegetable and other food, and ProVantage Kraftliner Aqua can meet that demand.
ProVantage Kraftliner Aqua replaces wax-coated paper, which has advantageous sustainability implications. “We minimise the use of resources as no paraffin is needed for the wax coating - this reduced the environmental footprint of the product. The paper is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and sourced from a renewable resource,” says Waltraud Seiner, marketing manager for containerboard at Mondi E&I.
Biodegradable paper-based packaging can also support the growing need of fruit and vegetable farmers to deliver organic products through environmentally responsible solutions.
Mondi’s Consumer Goods Packaging business places a strong focus on product development and innovation. “As an innovation leader, we aim to challenge the markets with new technologies and concepts,” explains Silke Salbert, Consumer Goods Packaging communication and business intelligence manager for Mondi E&I. The way we approach innovation goes hand-in-hand with development partnerships with our customers.. Innovation can be a complex process and we involve various stakeholders. “You have to have a strong innovation culture and commitment from management to bring projects to life,” Silke adds.
In today’s environment, one of the key drivers of fast-moving consumer goods companies is the need to develop more sustainable packaging solutions. PerfoamPack is a new packaging solution that offers a reduction in used materials and enhanced functionality. It is a co-extruded polyolefinic film with a micro-cellular expanded middle layer, which lowers weight without reducing thickness and compromising performance. It offers the conventional mechanical properties required to protect the packaged product, like a regular packaging film, but significantly reduces the use of raw materials (by up to 30%) which translates into a lighter film with a direct cost reduction and a significantly improved carbon footprint.