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Out of Plastic, into the Box

14.10.2019 - Barriers, Sustainability

When it comes to making the switch to sustainable packaging, it is often worth re-examining existing packaging designs or making the most of the cartonboard barrier features that are currently available. As the following examples show, there’s lots of potential!

                                                                                WHAT I AM                                    WHAT I COULD BE                          GOOD TO KNOW             


expanded polystyrene container
cartonboard clamshell

From 2021, the EU Directive on single-use plastic products will prohibit oxo-degradable materials such as fast food containers made of expanded polystyrene. Clamshell packaging made of cartonboard represents a proven sustainable alternative.


PP or PET bag
smart cartonboard packaging

Plastic is based on crude oil, not biodegradable. The cartonboard is made of renewable or recycled raw materials and is biodegradable. Nature will thank you.


aluminium can
round cartonboard box

Metal cans are energy-intensive to produce and heavy to transport. Round cartonboard boxes constitute a lightweight alternative and save on CO2 emissions.


paper sachet fully PE-coated

The original packaging is completely PE-coated and is not a monomaterial. The proposed solution has only partial sealing wax and is deemed to be a monomaterial, as the wax makes up less than 5 % of the total weight. Total recyclability is guaranteed.


fruit containers made of PS, PET or PP

smart cartonboard packaging

Plastic trays tend not to be recycled, especially if they are black in colour. Near-infrared spectroscopy is not capable of sorting black plastic. Cartonboard is born again. And again.


plastic shrink wrap around pizza
pizza without inner film

The shrink wrap does not serve as a barrier, but rather ensures that the pizza toppings do not come off. Cartonboard with a freeze barrier and a suitable design positioned closer to the product represents a sustainable alternative.


tin can with plastic pourer
bag-in-box packaging

Reducing non-sustainable packaging material is an important first step. In this case, the weight is also reduced.


PS deep-drawing part with Metpet cartonboard partition
smart cartonboard packaging

Complex plastic trays, that are difficult to recycle, can be replaced by smart cartonboard packaging designs.


tissue box with plastic membrane

tissue box with paper membrane

The plastic membrane in tissue boxes can be substituted by a paper membrane.
A tissue box made of one single material offers better recyclability.


PP injection-moulded box with paper label
smart cartonboard packaging

From 2021, the EU Directive on single-use plastics will prohibit cotton buds with a plastic handle. Cartonboard packaging compliments the concept for future cotton buds.


plastic bag
complex material

© pacproject

The plastic bag is replaced by multi-layered cartonboard. This is recyclable, as cartonboard layers are on the outside and the fibres can be stripped away.




A smart packaging design can provide the same functionality as plastic, avoid inefficiency in waste management and conserve resources. We are happy to examine any products that you are already marketing in terms of potential for optimising and improving them for the recycling process. The aim is always to be able to re-use the resources deployed in production and thus keep them in circulation.


This and many more articles can be found in our Unfolded print magazine!