Smurfit Kappa, the packaging multinational has developed an innovative patent pending completely paper-based solution that exploits thermal insulation offered by the air inside the packaging to maintain a constant temperature without using materials with a high environmental impact such as example polystyrene. Yet another practical example of the “Better Planet Packaging” initiative with which Smufit Kappa Italia sets itself the goal of creating suitable packaging to meet the needs of the most demanding customers while ensuring the protection of the planet.
Smurfit Kappa Italia, a multinational present in the country with 26 sites and 2,200 employees engaged in the creation of paper-based packaging through an integrated supply chain, launches Thermal Box-in-Box, a new patent pending packaging solution mainly dedicated to food and not-food products but not only for this, the result of the study of the team of designers specialized in eco-packaging who work in the Smurfit Kappa Italia Experience Center in Pastrengo (Verona). The challenge that had been won, after many tests and analyzes at company’s laboratories, was to create a thermal box completely in corrugated cardboard, renouncing to the use of polystyrene, plastic or other materials with a high environmental impact.
A fresh and sustainable transport
Thermal Box-in-Box is the concrete demonstration of how a simple material like corrugated cardboard is not only sustainable, but also highly functional. The idea behind the concept is apparently simple: to exploit thermal insulation offered by the air that remains inside the packaging. The new system is in fact composed of three elements: an internal box containing the product; a quick-assembly band that wraps it completely, equipped with multidirectional spacers; the outer box. A set made of biodegradable single material and without the use of glue which, thanks to the ability to create a sort of air chamber around the inner box, minimizes thermal bridges and allows to maintain the correct temperature – with or without the use of ice according to the specific needs of the product – eliminating difficult-to-recycle materials such as polystyrene, the market standard for temperature-controlled shipments.
To test the effectiveness of Thermal Box-in-Box, Smurfit Kappa technicians carried out many tests, both in internal laboratories and at customers’ premises, comparing the new system with those most commonly used today. Furthermore, both transport with couriers and not-air-conditioned vehicles was tested using internal sensors to track the temperature, as well as storage in high-temperature air-conditioned rooms to evaluate the efficiency of the different thermal protection systems. In all tests, Thermal Box-in-Box proved to be a similar solution and in some cases an improvement in terms of thermal resistance and duration in maintaining the temperature.
The Thermal Box-in-Box system is very functional from a logistical point of view: it is delivered flat to the customer with considerable savings on transport and warehouse costs and is a virtuous example of circular economy: at the end of its use it is easy to flatten and it is disposable with paper, ready to be recycled and given a new life.
“Research and innovation are fundamental in a sector such as packaging which is increasingly becoming a driver of the circular economy. In this sense, collaboration with our customers becomes a winning card for analyzing the various supply chains in detail, understanding their needs and finding together the most effective and concretely sustainable solutions, even for products that require controlled temperatures during transport”, comments Gianluca Castellini, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Italy, “a product like Thermal Box-in-Box is an example of our approach and represents a further project of our Better Planet Packaging initiative, which aims to accompany our customers and consumers in an ecological transition starting right from the packaging” .