Searching the perfect pulp for the paper bottle

To make a paper bottle you need an outstanding raw material that make it possible. Paboco together with BillerudKorsnäs are co-creating the future of the paper bottle project by developing a pulp that enables a strong paper bottle with great design and branding capabilities.

Dry products, food, cosmetics, beverages or any other liquid content all require unique pulp blends to create packaging with special qualities and features. The fibers must be strong, yet mouldable in different ways for the specific area of usage. In the case of the paper bottle, the paper part also needs to be able to withstand pressure from carbonated beverages. 

“The first bottles we shaped already in 2013 were made from recycled newspapers and envelopes. We realized quite soon that we needed to bring in more expertise to refine our paper bottles further.Helena Karlsson and Lars Hildén from BillerudKorsnäs came with that expertise and our collaboration has proven great progress. Wood fibres are such an amazing material, not only is it a living and renewable material but also very versatile depending how you treat and refine the fibers. Today we can make paper bottles that withstand high CO2 pressure.” says Morten Frandsen Pulp Process Technician at Paboco. 

To create the specific pulp formula requires both fingertip sensation and a solid chemistry education. Helena Karlsson at BillerudKorsnäs Skärblacka has both. Being a development engineer at one of the BillerudKorsnäs mills is much about working with her team and other experts across the organisation to co-create unique fiber blends for various kinds of paper packaging. A role that quickly made her involved in the collaboration with us at Paboco and the paper bottle project.

Rough fibers, strong paper shell 

“We must have run hundreds of tests in the lab to find the perfect pulp”, Helena says.

Developing the pulp is very important. The very material,which properties create unique design opportunities for each customer to shape their own bottle.

The more roughened treated fibers, the stronger the paper shell becomes to withstand the mechanical loads and pressure from carbonated beverages. For this purpose, it is important to ensure continuous access to a pulp with the proper quality and mixture.Something that became possible for Paboco, when Helena and the team assisted us in installing and calibrating our own paper mill refiner on site.

“Having the refiner on site, and directly linked to our paper bottle machine is a great asset for Paboco. It allows us to be very flexible when it comes to the many recipes, we have experimented with over the years. It gives us the possibility to continuously learn and improve on our processes, as well as adapt to different bottle types and functions, that may require changes to the quality of pulp.” says Joachim Carlsen, Technical Project Manager at Paboco.
Joachim Carlsen,Technical Project Manager at Paboco

How we refine the fibers has a big impact on the properties of the finished bottles. Therefore, the refiner plant is fully automated and built in a way that makes the plant open for running a dozen different scenarios. Every process from dissolving the paper in the pulper, to the refining process is monitored to ensure that we know exactly how we have treated the pulp. This gives us great control of our processes and allows us to make uniform pulp with excellent repeatability. 

Another aspect of the pulp is the drying time of the paper bottle. The pulp mixture is injected with high pressure into a mould to create an optimal shape and to ensure maximum dewatering in the process. For this purpose, it has proved that a pulp mixture of long fibers such as pine and spruce work best.

We are using sustainably sourced wood fibres from well managed forests. For every tree harvested three new trees are planted and allowed to grow to an optimal size before harvested. Growing trees bind more carbon dioxide than older trees. When the forest has finished growing, the net uptake of carbon dioxide is zero until the new forest is planted and starts to grow again. An active and responsible forestry therefore play a key role in combatting climate change.

Continuous development processes 

“Today,Paboco is more or less independent of us in the basic use of the pulp, but there are constantly new ideas for optimization we like to try to meet new requirements, so we are still in contact. Being part of this project, with the potential to change the industry and people's choice of sustainable packaging,is a strong motivator for me”, Helena continues.

Together for a sustainable tomorrow 

At Paboco we believe that we need to collaborate across the value chain to succeed. We need the right people with the right expertise and personal drive to create change. Many challenges and collaboration efforts remain in the paper bottle project. But we share the vision to create the world’s first fully biobased and recyclable paper bottle that in the future could harmlessly degrade if accidentally put in nature.

We are changing the bottle industry for good!

Different bottle generations: 01. The first bottle ever made in 2013, 02. Bottle made from recycled newspapers, 03. The pressure vessel withstanding 14 bars 04. Paboco’s Gen 1.0 bottle with recycled PET barrier.