Do you think paper and bananas have anything in common?
They definitely have!
And we must stress kraft paper in particular. since bananas are transported in cardboard boxes made with it. And here is the thing. When setting the price of bananas, paper costsare an important factor. And this is even truer today!
Due to the pandemic, paper mills stopped their production. But then, with the economy picking up speed, this industry is suffering a shortage of supplies. Their production and stocks need to be readjusted.
During this time, other circumstances have also led to a change in the costs of paper production:
Digitization: we may believe that digitization lowers the consumption of paper. But, far from it, it has increased the need for packaging. The reason, online purchases have boosted the demand for paper. If you find it hard to believe, think of how many boxes you got at home during the pandemic.
Rising energy prices: we are dealing with an unprecedented increase in all relevant production costs. For instance, the price increases in raw materials are driven by soaring prices of gas, electricity and chemicals.
So, let’s find out more about the cardboard boxes for your bananas:
What’s necessary to produce kraft paper? Or, in other words, how is the carton produced to deliver your delicious bananas?
1. The first step is to transform the wood fibre into chips.
The wood comes from forests called managed timberlands. This means that the woods are grown as an agricultural crop.
Once the logs are “harvested” they are washed with steam or hot water to remove gravel and sand (if they come from cold regions, even to melt snow and ice in winter). Afterwards, they go to the debarking drum (the bark can be used for bioenergy or improving the soil). In the next two stages, metal and stones are removed, to reach the chipper cut. The latter is a rotating disc with sharp cutting blades which turn the timber into wood chips. All chips are screened for size and go to the shredder where they are cut into smaller pieces. If they are too small, they are used for biofuel. If they have the proper size, they are stored in silos to be converted into paper pulp.
2. Second step is to convert the chips into pulp.
Firstly, chips are transported from the silo to a steam bin. Here the steam heats the wood and removes its moisture. Then the chips are washed to remove stones and nuts. After that, they are once again heated with steam to separate them easily in the refiners. The latter segregate the wood fibres mechanically in a two-step process.
Following refining, the pulp is screened to remove the fibres that did not separate properly and the pulp is stored in silos, waiting for the next step: the bleaching process.
The dry pulp is moved by a screw conveyor to a small refiner where the bleaching chemicals are added. The mix of bleaching chemicals and pulp is pumped to a bleaching tower where the chemicals and pulp react for a certain time. The bleached pulp is now transported by a screw conveyor from the bottom of the bleaching tower to a vat where water is added to wash away the bleaching chemicals. The water and bleaching chemicals are removed from the pulp by dewatering. The chemicals are harvested for reuse and the pulp is sent to a storage silo to be used in the paper machine.
3. Last step consists in going from pulp to paper.
The pulp (which consists of one percent fibres and 99% water) is pumped into a de-aerator. Here the most important step consists in suctioning water from the pulp placed between two forming fabrics. The fibres stay on the surface of the fabrics while the water is drained. Until here the fibre still contains 80% water. Next step is the press section, which reduces moisture by 50 per cent. Afterwards the fibre enters the drying section. This is the longest part of the paper machine and consists of steam heated cylinders that dry the paper to its final moisture content.
As you have seen, the raw material for paper manufacturing is wood. This means that forests are the engines of this industry. Additionally, the most valued woods for cardboard boxes for bananas are birch, pine and fir. But, above all, the most important thing is that the forests from which they come must be FSC certified.
Thanks to the FSC label we know the origin of the materials used to make the finished product (more about this in FSC.org).
And where are the biggest paper mills?
Ecuador’s card boxes are mainly made with pulp coming from the USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. Additionally, our provider in Banabio Grupasahas become the firstcarbon neutralcardboard box manufacturer in South America. The creation of novel carbon neutral products generates vast opportunities for the sector.
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