Multi-million-dollar investment will result in a molded fiber products plant in Europe.
July 18, 2022 Recycling World
A partnership between a United States-based company and a United Kingdom-based firm has been forged to create what the partners call “one of the largest specialist molded fiber production facilities created in Europe.”
Molded fiber or molded pulp, which can use scrap paper or discarded wood fiber as feedstock, is being backed by circular economy advocates as a material that can replace plastic in some single-use applications, such as coffee cup lids.
The direct-food/beverage contact status of such lids means “we cannot consider adding post-consumer and post-industrial cellulose-based fibers” for this application, says Anne Marie Hagerty, a spokesperson for Zume.
She adds, however, “Whenever we are producing non-direct contact (with food/beverage) molded fiber-based products, we will consider adding recycled fibers to the mix.”
When the new lids are discarded, “As these molded fibre lids are made entirely of cellulose fibers, we expect these to be disposed after use in the mixed paper recycling stream from households and municipal collection streams,” says Hagerty.
U.K.-based Transcend Packaging and California-based Zume say their announced investment will initially focus on the production of coffee cup lids. “The aim is to initially create 500 million units of capacity by September [of this year], enabling large global food and beverage companies and leading quick service retail (QSR) brands to have an immediately available solution.”
Those lids will be produced at a production facility in Europe that the partners say is in the site assessment stage now regarding exact location. Transcend and Zume says they are aiming for the facility to be “fully functional by mid-2023.”
Zume, which is backed in part by Japan-based fund Softbank, says the planned “multi-million-[U.K.] pound deal” will add to what it call its “already global network of factories in North America and India, with more in planning stages in Latin America and Canada.”
Zume also says its partnership with ABB Robotics enables it to create molded fibre products using ABB’s manufacturing cells and robotic machinery worldwide. Currently, Zume says its process uses “millions of metric tons of various global biomass and converts the natural plant fibers into advanced molded fiber products.