We announced recently that Pira International is to play a major role in Sustainpack, a four year EU Framework 6 project commencing by late March.

The integrated project value is EUR30M, of which 50% is EU-funded. The project consortium represents 13 European countries and comprises 15 research organisations, 10 universities and eight industry supply chain partners: Ahlstrom, Kappa Packaging, Smurfit, Stora Enso, Cartonajes Levante, Walki Wisa, Xaar Jet and Sainsbury’s.

Sustainpack will focus on innovation and sustainable development in the fibre-based value chain. The goal is to develop multi-functional fibre-based and fibre-based renewable polymer composite packaging materials exploiting nanotechnology.

Sustainpack is probably the most important supply chain collaborative research project ever commissioned in the field of fibre-based packaging. Never before has such a comprehensive group of experts and supply chain players come together to develop and implement new, value-added packaging options based on renewable resources. The project also aims to establish the European forest industry cluster as the dominant player in the packaging area within a decade.

Pira’s involvement is a result of its track record in technology forecasting and mapping.

The project is divided into six sub-projects: lean and effective fibre-based packaging, fibre-based composite films, protective coatings, 3D composite packaging, communicative packaging and technology mapping of the fibre-based packaging value chain.

This integrated approach maximises the value of research work, creates real synergy and avoids duplication. Outputs, technology breakthroughs and new facilities will be shared between sub-projects through vertical and horizontal integration.

A key element will be demonstration of project outcomes through supply chain trials. There will be an open call for SME participation, particularly in the demonstration phase. Pira is co-ordinating dissemination of the project, which will be conducted through a series of strategic conferences, regular technical seminars throughout the four year duration, bulletins and a dedicated website.

Greg Wood is business manager, consulting, at Pira International