OUR COMPANY’S COMMITMENT

We are committed to advance sustainable development inside and outside Ahlstrom-Munksjö.

It is ‘work in progress’ in many areas with a goal to make sure we leave a decent world to our children. Our most important social target is safety. We want our people to return home the same as they were coming to work.

Our economic impact reaches every continent in the world. Be it in sourcing raw materials, employing people or manufacturing and selling products. We are committed to doing all that responsibly, following our framework for ethics.

Every human activity has an impact on the environment. Knowing ours and reducing it in our operations and products forms the core of our sustainability activity. We think that making products that are truly needed by people; are ‘products with purpose’ has a better social justfication to use the planet’s limited resources. With that, we want to do more with less, reducing the negative footprint of our operations and maximizing the positive impacts of our products.

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LET'S TALK ABOUT PLASTIC

Nowadays there is a lot of attention on plastics in packaging and the effects it has on the environment ultimately, our health.

The ‘Plastic Free’ movement is gaining traction with consumers as well as with retailers and even governments: it’s becoming important to be plastic free.

A FEW FACTS ABOUT PLASTICS

  • Plastic as we know it has only existed for the last 60-70 years, but due to its nature, it takes 450 years for plastic to disintegrate
    • Therefore nearly all the plastic ever created still exists in some form today
    • We have reached 8.3Bn tonnes of plastic produced: 1 billion elephants equivalent in weight
  • Roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050, As a result, there might be more plastic than fish in the ocean by then
  • Plastics degrade into microplastics that seep into our Ecosystem
    • Plastic accumulates in the ocean (the “6th continent”)
    • Studies have shown that fish and other marine life do eat plastic
    • Plastic debris accumulates pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) up to 100,000 to 1,000,000 times the levels found in seawater
    • It is still unclear whether and how much of these pollutants can seep from plastic debris into the organisms that happen to eat the debris. More research is needed to help better understand these areas

Countries and retailers are also reacting to this phenomenon:

  • Iceland has pledged to go plastic-free on all its own-brand packaging by 2023
  • Theresa May has pledged eliminate UK’s plastic waste by 2042
  • 193 countries have signed a pledge to reduce ocean plastic pollution
  • A Plastic-free aisle was launched in February 2018 in Amsterdam

The plastic waste generated by a used heat sealable tea bag is only a few grams of Polypropylene…a few grams that become thousands of tons when we take into account the billions of tea cups consumed every year. Consumers are increasingly aware about the presence of PP in their tea bags and of its environmental cost. This awareness is pushing the tea bag brands to rethink the whole value chain in terms of sustainability.

Plastic free materials alternatives

Reducing the waste is one of the challenges that Ahlstrom-Munksjö targeted in developing its new tea filter solutions: we look at recycling as a step forward and composting as a solution.

Tea bags should decompose after their utilization in order to feed our planet, not pollute it. That is why we started extensive research to create a media capable of running effectively on current tea bag machines and at the same time being compostable after its utilization.

The choice turned in favor of PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), a natural polymer made of sustainably grown cultures which is a ‘bio plastic’ and acts as the sealant in the heat seal tea bag material.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö offers materials that can replace the current heat sealable materials in the market. (see our products page to learn more)

How we innovate

Current filter solutions for heat sealable tea bags are mainly based on non-compostable materials made of cellulose and plastic which allows making the seal.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is one of the first players to provide a filter based on PLA and capable to seal and be converted effectively. The result in the cup is delicious tea flavor with no bitter environmental after-taste.


PLA

WHAT IS POLY LACTIC ACID (PLA)?

PLA is a biopolymer derived completely from the sugars extracted from annually grown plants such as corn (maize). While the monomer precursor to PLA is currently extracted exclusively from corn, it can also be extracted from any starch-bearing agricultural products, including agricultural wastes and non-food plants.

  • Meets the food contact requirements for US FDA CFR 21, part 176.170 and EU regulation 1935 (2004)
  • Renewable and sustainable
  • 100% Biodegradable and compostable to EN13432 for end of life recovery through aerobic composting
  • PLA is considered ‘Plastic Free’*
  • Consumers can dispose of PLA products responsibly by placing them in their local council food waste bin or organic waste collection to be industrially composted

Ahlstrom-Munksjö has been working with PLA since 2007 and invested in a PLA machine in 2008.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is one of the first players to provide a filter based on PLA and capable to seal and be converted effectively. The result in the cup is delicious tea flavor with no bitter environmental after-taste.


ABACA

WHAT IS ABACA?

Abaca, an important renewable and sustainable crop

Type: Banana shaped plant
Maturity: 18 – 24 months
Harvest: 3 times /yr
Fiber Yield: 600 – 1300 kg/ha
Fiber Length: 1.5 – 3.0 meters
Sources: Philippines

AHLSTROM-MUNKSJÖ IS COMMITTED TO SUSTAINABLE SOURCING OF ALL RAW MATERIALS INCLUDING ABACA AND HELPING ENSURE IT CONTINUES TO SUPPORT THE LIVELIHOOD OF THOUSANDS OF LOCAL FARMERS.

  • Ahlstrom-Munksjö is providing financial support to advance sustainability certification of abaca against the SAN standard in the Philippines
  • Ahlstrom-Munksjö is actively working with EDANA (European Disposables and Nonwovens Association) to bring together industry activity to support abaca farmers in conjunction with FIDA (Fiber Industry Development Authority) in the Philippines
  • Ahlstrom-Munksjö will continue to create a reliable, continuous and sustainable supply of abaca raw material for beverages

*Oil-based plastic. PLA is a bioplastic which is classified as plastic free