Monday 28 November 2022

An easily recyclable tray helps Baronie cut its carbon footprint

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BRUGES, Belgium – Belgium is synonymous with chocolate, and when one of the country’s top producers was seeking ways to further cut its carbon footprint, Metsä Board was on hand to help. Switching from a PE coated board to a dispersion barrier board means the tray that holds the famous ice praline treats produced by BIG – Belgian Ice Cream Group, part of the Baronie Group, now has a 32% lower cradle-to-grave carbon footprint.

Baronie Group, Belgium’s biggest chocolate producer, has a long and distinguished history with roots stretching back to 1839. The company produces chocolate products under multiple brand names, with many being firm favourites across its home market of Europe. Baronie’s dedication to quality and craftsmanship is matched only by its commitment to sustainability. In addition to participating in several cocoa sustainability initiatives, Baronie is firmly focused on reducing packaging waste and improving recyclability.

“In 2019, after we launched MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB, our lightweight dispersion-coated barrier paperboard, we approached Baronie to discuss how the product could help them because we were aware of their strong focus on improving packaging sustainability,” says Tom Symons, Metsä Board Sales Manager for Benelux.

Baronie indicated that the product would be ideal for its sister company BIG, a producer of ice cream specialities including ice pralines, which were already being packaged in MetsäBoard Classic FBB, a fully coated folding boxboard with PE coating. The inner tray of the praline packaging requires a barrier board since it is in direct contact with the frozen product. In the past this has been solved by using a PE layer on the board but in order to reduce plastic, our recommendation was to use MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB.

Lighter and reducing use of plastic

To demonstrate to Baronie the benefits of switching to MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB, Metsä Board produced a cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – a lightweighting analysis covering the whole value chain from forest until end-of life – though excluding transportation of the paperboard to the customer and converting process of the paperboard. “The numbers spoke for themselves,” Tom says. “The LCA showed that switching to the dispersion barrier board would reduce the cradle-to-gate including end-of-life carbon footprint of the packaging by an astonishing 32%.”

MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB reduced the weight of the tray by 0.2 grammes, which might not sound like a lot, but translates into 5% less paperboard per tray. In terms of carbon emissions, the LCA showed that replacing 100 tons of PE-coated paperboard with MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB enables an annual emission reduction equivalent to 15 cars driving for 20,000 km.

Expert support to smooth the transition

Switching to a new material can bring its own set of challenges for packaging converters and brand owners, but Metsä Board’s technical services team was ready and waiting to provide support. Technical Development Director Koen Verplancke picks up the story: “Fully automated packaging lines are extremely efficient but can be sensitive to change,” he says.

“I visited the plant where the trays were being produced and filled on several occasions to make sure everything went smoothly with the new material. The trays may look simple but the design is quite complex especially from a die cutting perspective, with multiple folds and half cuts, so maintaining productivity is key. This project has allowed us to further strengthen our relationship with BIG and Baronie and act as a trusted advisor on a variety of different paperboard-related matters.”

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