Pakd Explains – Pulp Moulded Packaging

Moulded paper pulp packaging was at one time viewed as the poor relation in terms of protective packaging.

 Used mainly to manufacture egg boxes, this highly effective packaging medium was rarely seen as a viable alternative to more accepted forms of protective packaging such as moulded polystyrene packaging (eps), expanded foam packaging, thermoformed plastic packaging or even corrugated cardboard packaging.

However, in recent years, moulded paper pulp packaging has undergone a transformation in terms of both manufacturing innovation and consumer acceptability. Due to tough commercial packaging waste regulations and consumer driven demand for greener packaging, moulded paper pulp packaging is now fast becoming a packaging medium that is not only acceptable and desirable but essential in terms of commercial environmental obligations.

Manufacturing Processes of Moulded Paper Pulp Packaging

Waste paper is the main component of moulded paper pulp packaging, ideal as there is always a large amount of waste paper material available from the commercial paper recycling industry.

Essentially the finished quality of a pulp moulding is determined by the quality of the waste paper material used in the manufacturing process. Printed waste paper destined for re-pulping is chemically de-inked; this not only removes inks and other coatings but will also remove any other non-desirable substances that may be held within the waste paper.

Pulp Packaging Fact

Corrugated cartons are a molded paper pulp product. Corrugated fluting paper is manufactured from recycled paper pulp which is moulded around giant rollers to create the corrugated effect. The average corrugated carton therefore contains between 70 and 80 percent recycled paper and always has done!

Types of Pulp Finishing

In terms of finishing there are 3 common types of moulded paper pulp packaging…

Single Pressed (or Cold Pressed) Pulp Paper Moulding

A basic molded shape on one side and rough on the reverse side. Single press moulding is often used for pulp packaging inserts for heavy objects and pulp edge protectors for large consumer goods where product protection is required but absolute accuracy isn’t a priority. Single pressed pulp moldings are the least expensive to manufacture due to the relatively inexpensive mold tooling and lower grade waste paper used.


Double Pressed (or Hot Pressed) Pulp Paper Moulding

More complex and accurate shapes are attainable using this pulp moulding process. Molded pulp packaging manufactured using this process is recognisable from its sharper finish, thinner walls and more symmetrical shapes. Double pressed molding is used to manufacture mobile phone pulp insert trays, retail composite packaging, pulp egg boxes, pulp medical bowls, pulp produce trays and pulp catering disposables.


Finished (or Processed) Pulp Paper Moulding

Starting with a double pressed (or hot pressed), pulp paper molding, the pulp product is further processed: this end of line finishing can be in the form of die cutting to remove rough edges or to create complex holes or hinges, foil blocking and in some cases specialised over printing. Pulp paper mouldings can also be uniformly coloured or dyed during the initial pulping process.

Moulded Paper Pulp Packaging and the Environment

Paper is the only raw material utilised in manufacturing moulded paper pulp packaging. For the majority of pulp moldings waste paper is an acceptable material. Where waste paper is not acceptable for a pulp moulding, the moulded product must have a traceable raw material lineage.

An example of this would be for a food container that is or has the potential to come into direct contact with the food itself. Environmental factors for this type of clean paper pulp moulding may demand that virgin grade raw material be sourced from a certified sustainable source such as FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification).

Moulded paper pulp is in itself a fully recyclable product. When recycled through domestic waste packaging recycling or commercial waste packaging recycling programmes, moulded paper pulp is broken down and made back into waste paper based pulp slurry. When moulded paper pulp packaging is placed into landfill it will biodegrade and compost within a matter of only a few months.

Types of Moulded Paper Pulp Packaging


Due to stricter waste regulations concerning plastics in packaging, moulded paper pulp is quickly becoming the raw material of choice for many types of protective packaging.


Pulp Pallets

Moulded paper pulp pallets are extremely durable, fully recyclable and due to their manufacturing process, fully conforming to ISPM-15 heat treating regulations governing wooden pallets.  Moulded paper pulp pallets are produced in a similar process to regular moulded paper pulp products. They are pressed with very high pressure and built up over many layers of pulp, finally forming a very dense, wood like material that is almost as impervious to moisture as wood itself. From a cost perspective, moulded paper pulp pallets can often be less expensive than their wooden pallet or plastic pallet equivalents due to their low-cost waste based raw material.


Pulp Insert Trays

Moulded paper pulp carton inserts are an accepted method of protective packaging for many items. They feature in mobile phone packaging, computer packaging, domestic appliance packaging, cosmetic packaging and hardware packaging. Moulded paper pulp inserts can be manufactured in complex shapes with deep cavities allowing ultimate protection at a relatively low production cost when compared with other types of high volume protective packaging.


Pulp Packaging For Food Use

Moulded paper pulp packaging is becoming a familiar disposable catering item in the form of fast food drinks carriers and trays. The retail food industry also has its uses for moulded paper pulp packaging for fruit and vegetable trays.


Pulp Medical Products

Due to its disposable and environmentally friendly nature, molded paper pulp is a convenient and clean material for manufacturing items such as pulp medical bowls and pulp medical sanitary containers.

The Future for Moulded Paper Pulp Packaging

Moulded paper pulp packaging is not only recycled but fully recyclable, it is difficult to imagine a more efficient, timely and universally acceptable product. It is made predominantly from waste paper material that can be recovered, recycled and reused over and over again.

Its profile has slowly risen from protecting one of nature’s most fragile creations, in the form of the humble egg box, to an internationally accepted medium for protective product packaging.