Packaging Insights: TerraSlate reusable synthetic papers challenge single-use pulp-based conventions

Packaging Insights on TerraSlate Paper

TerraSlate is challenging the traditional paper industry with its reusable synthetic papers. The solutions come in response to the tree pulp-based paper industry’s “incredible drain” on planetary resources, including water and oil to process trees down to paper. 

While paper is an inexpensive and readily available resource, finished paper products are often destroyed, thrown away, or otherwise used up.

“Our viewpoint is that single-use paper for basic printouts should be avoided whenever possible,” TerraSlate founder Kyle Ewing tells PackagingInsights

The laminate alternatives are digital-print compatible, rip-proof and fully water-proof.

In terms of packaging applications, Ewing says TerraSlate paper is suitable for informational cards, for instance, placed inside frozen food shipments, “as the material does not get soggy and is not damaged if wet or frozen.”

What’s best for the environment?
TerraSlate is made from high-grade polyester. “If the application is going to be used multiple times, it is better for the environment,” Ewing highlights.

He adds TerraSlate has not yet conducted any life cycle assessments on the papers’ environmental impacts but “would be open to.” 

TerraSlate Paper is an ethylene-based laminate alternative, serving as a reusable rip-proof and water-proof printer paper.Even with heavy use, the papers are designed to last over a century while remaining inexpensive for daily applications.

TerraSlate paper is both reusable and recyclable. However, TerraSlate may not always be suitable for recycling at local recycling centers. “This is why we strongly encourage re-use whenever possible,” says the company.

Put into practical use
The papers are more affordable than laminated materials and require less time to produce, notes the company.

Emphasizing TerraSlate’s “much more professional look,” the company also offers “superior” laser image quality with the appearance, smoothness and printability of standard paper. The paper is compatible in most standard laser printers or digital presses. 

For example, the papers have recently been used to nano-coat menus with an antimicrobial and anti-viral surface to prevent germs from spreading, especially useful as restaurants reopen after COVID-19 lockdowns.

Commercial interest for the synthetic papers has also hailed from the construction, retail and sports industries, with current customers ranging from Whole Foods to the US Armed Forces. 

Burning paper bridges
For food packaging formats, Ewing says “it still makes sense” to use single-use paper in many applications, as they are among the “most cost-efficient ways to package products.” 

Paper packaging suppliers Huhtamaki and Stora Enso welcomed scientific evidence earlier this year finding paper-based single-use products more environmentally responsible than reusable tableware in European quickservice restaurants.

However, mounting consumer preference for eco-conscious paper is putting a strain on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper supply. Consequently, the F&B industry across the board is seeking eco-friendly alternatives.

By Anni Schleicher

This article is owned and was written by Packaging Insights. Link to original article.