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UPM Specialty Papers and Henkel create a sustainable heat-sealable packaging concept delivering unrivalled levels of grease resistance

Working closely with partners from across the food packaging value network, UPM Specialty Papers is co-creating transformative solutions that reimagine the future of sustainable packaging.

A long-standing relationship with Henkel, a worldwide leader in industrial and consumer businesses, has now resulted in a recyclable, heat-sealable packaging material compatible with existing packaging lines. Pushing the performance of barrier papers to an unsurpassed level of grease resistance, it offers a tried and tested concept for converters.

Reinventing the seal

The plastic coating traditionally required for protection and heat-sealing renders the final product difficult to recycle. Inspired by a shared focus on creating sustainable alternatives, UPM Specialty Papers and Henkel have reinvented the concept to help brand owners and converters meet ever growing consumer and regulatory demands for easy to recycle packaging.

“In line with our 2030 sustainability ambitions, our water-based LOCTITE LIOFOL HS 2809-22 RE heat seal and AQUENCE EPIX BC 6134 grease barrier coatings are easy to recycle, helping to recover more fibres and supporting a more circular economy. Together with UPM Specialty Papers, we have moved one step closer to bridging the gap between sustainable fibre-based packaging and traditional plastic packaging to support brand owners and converters in the transition to paper,” says Christin Noack, Market Strategy Manager Paper Solutions at Henkel.

Progress through partnership

Existing UPM Asendo™ and UPM Asendo™ Pro barrier papers provided the starting point. These recyclable barrier papers are produced with fibres from sustainably managed forests and offer grease and moisture resistance without the need for a plastic coating.

The partnership then set out to push the limits of performance to create food-safe, heat-sealed, paper-based packaging that can be recycled in existing fibre recycling streams. This is where Henkel’s expertise came into play with the optimization of its pioneering coatings specifically for the UPM papers, reinforcing their original barrier properties to offer unmatched levels of grease resistance.

“Barrier and heat seal coatings behave differently on different paper substrates, so finding the best combination of paper substrate, coating, and optimum application can be tricky,” explains Christin Noack. “We fine-tuned our heat seal and grease barrier coatings over a number of trials and a lengthy development process. Together with UPM, we have developed innovative coatings products that enable paper to reach new and unmatched barrier performance levels.”

The resulting high performance packaging concept is ideal for a wide range of dry foods that require grease resistance, such as party snacks and bread sticks – both of which will be available as samples at Interpack.

A template for the future

“This solution demonstrates what we can achieve with co-created fibre-based materials. Packaging converters can select from a ready tested and approved ‘off-the shelf’ combination of paper and coatings, quickly finding the right solutions for their end-use without the need for trial and error. For brand owners, it represents yet another co-created product aimed at supporting the transition from fossil-based materials to renewable, recyclable packaging,” says Mika Uusikartano, Senior Manager, Product Portfolio Management at UPM Specialty Papers.

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