For a year now, Voith has been active as a leading technology partner in the cross-sector industrial alliance 4evergreen. The initiative, hosted by CEPI, is committed to a 90 percent recycling rate of fiber-based packaging by 2030. Optimal recycling of fibers and the establishment of a circular economy are considered important levers for more sustainable paper production.
For example, fiber recycling can bind CO2, conserve resources and save costs. New innovations are needed to further increase the recycling rate. To this end, Voith is involved in the “Innovation” project group of the 4evergreen alliance. In this group, experts from Voith contribute their experience from the Fiber Technology Center (FTC) for an optimal recycling process. By improving aggregates, processes and settings, it should be possible to break down even materials that are difficult to recycle and maximize fiber yield.
“Sustainability is a key fundamental pillar at Voith. Enabling a 90 percent recycling rate is therefore part of our sustainability program ‘Papermaking for Life,’” says Bernd Güldenberg, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Voith Paper. “We are pleased to contribute our many years of experience to the 4evergreen alliance. In this way, we are helping to expand the range of applications for fiber-based packaging and at the same time further increase the recycling rate. As part of the initiative, we are working with other members on sustainable and recyclable packaging papers.”
In the first step, Voith’s specialists examined more than 10 different barrier papers in the laboratory, which were compiled by the 4evergreen members. The results are currently being evaluated. Subsequently, Voith will develop concepts in targeted trials to further optimize the recovered paper preparation systems of the 4evergreen members. Güldenberg of Voith continues: “The new papers should have all the desired functions, such as food protection. At the same time, the papers should also be fully recyclable, ensuring the recycling and reuse of fibers, residual materials and coating materials thanks to new technologies.”
In total, 100 leading companies along the entire value chain are working on various topics in the 4evergreen alliance. The Confederation of European Paper Industries CEPI founded the 4evergreen initiative in 2019 due to increasing consumer demand for fiber-based and sustainable packaging solutions. The alliance includes pulp paper and board manufacturers as well as recyclers, packaging material producers and converters, food and beverage producers, food retailers, technology and material suppliers, waste paper sorters and collectors, as well as research institutes.
In addition to the “Innovation” project group, other groups are defining important Europe-wide guidelines for the paper industry. These involve the assessment of recyclability and the design of fiber-based packaging to ensure recyclability. At the same time, members are developing recommendations for collection systems and waste paper sorting. The goal is to define targeted sorting for optimal management of recyclables streams.
Papermaking for Life sustainability program
As part of the “Papermaking for Life” innovation and development offensive, Voith Paper is presenting versatile technologies and initiatives that lead to more efficient and sustainable processes in papermaking. The focus is on water, energy and fiber savings as well as digitalization, innovations and partnerships as levers for more sustainable production. Another focus is on Voith’s own activities at its locations worldwide.