Since 2020, the 4evergreen alliance has grown to more than 110 members from all parts of the fibre-based packaging value chain. Many professional connections have been established or have grown stronger through the alliance, and members are already using 4evergreen tools in their own circularity and sustainability projects.

22 Circularity Success Stories

In 2023, 4evergreen launched its ‘Circularity Success Stories’ initiative, collecting from member companies breakthrough projects – whether individual or collaborative -, that have been spurred by the alliance and can serve as inspiring examples to follow.

4evergreen members were invited to submit projects in five categories:

  1. Addressing Recyclability Challenges
  2. Design for Circularity
  3. Improving Collection & Sorting
  4. Circularity Best Practices
  5. Landmark Investments Project enabling 4evergreen Key Targets

The submissions were assessed along the criteria of whether the project is already live or available, the level of collaboration between members, how innovative the project is, the use of 4evergreen tools and contribution to reaching the alliance’s targets.

A total of 22 projects qualified, and five were selected to present their project during 4evergreen’s 2023 annual conference, ‘The Pathway to Circularity: from Guidance to Action’.

Discover the 5 selected 'circularity success stories' for each category!

Developing re-pulpable and bio-digestible barrier coatings for functional fibre-based packaging

Aquapak’s Hydropol* is a water-soluble, biodegradable polymer technology based on polyvinyl alcohol addressing a major challenge: functionalising paper for sensitive food applications while ensuring its recyclability in standard paper mills.

Hydropol can be applied to paper for food packaging using standard polymer extrusion equipment, and provides excellent gas, oil, and grease resistance. It is safe for food contact, heat-sealable, and ideal for form-fill-seal paper packaging.

In addition, Hydropol is highly environmentally friendly. When Hydropol-coated paper is recycled, the polymer completely dissolves during repulping, allowing for full fibre recovery without generating plastic waste and is biodegraded within mill effluent systems.

SIG Terra alu-free full barrier

A paradigm shift in aseptic carton packaging: by eliminating the need for aluminum layers, SIG Terra alu-free full barrier maintains robust barrier properties comparable to traditional alternatives.

This innovative offering expands SIG’s commitment to sustainability, providing a greener solution for oxygen-sensitive beverages.

SIG Terra alu-free is fully recyclable within existing systems, ensuring the preservation of high-quality materials for continued use. This streamlined approach simplifies beverage carton recycling, reducing the separation process to just two materials (fibre and polymers) while enhancing the quality of recycled polymers.

The Cup Collective

The Cup Collective is a unique European partnership programme to recycle and regenerate paper cups on an industrial scale through the launch of initiatives such as those now operational in Brussels and Dublin and in partnership with initiatives like ‘McDonald’s in-house cup collection’ across multiple European markets, and ‘It’s Your Part’ in Germany.

In addition to activations the project acts as a communication hub, sharing system designs, expertise, and best practices. By making it easy for consumers to do the right thing, we will ensure that no cup is left behind.

The ultimate goal? Accelerate industrial scale solutions for paper cup recycling across Europe. Seeing half a billion cups recycled into new paper and board products over the next two years, while developing a commercially viable and transparent model to maximise the value of recycled cup materials.

Palurec PolyAl Recycling Plant

Palurec GmbH has been recognised for pioneering a certified advancement in recycling in Germany. While beverage cartons are primarily fibre-based, they also contain polymers and aluminium which are barriers for food protection. In the past, after extracting the fibres, the remaining mix of polymers and aluminum was commonly used as a low-emission fuel for cement factories. Palurec’s new process converts this mixture into high-quality recyclate suitable as an admixture for injection moulding applications such as castings, canisters, pipes or boxes. This directly reduces the use of virgin materials.

Palurec has been praised for its tangible impact on the circular economy, its alignment with 4evergreen’s primary targets, the use of 4evergreen tools, and the initiative’s uniqueness. The project’s collaborative approach and the ready availability of the solution have also drawn praise.

Fibre and Paper Development Laboratory (Fibre Lab)

The Fibre Lab at Kemsley pioneers research in technologies aimed at enhancing the performance and sustainability of fibre-based packaging. It is the first facility of its kind in the paper industry, focusing on critical aspects such as barrier technology, repulpability,
recyclability, and more.

Through the Fibre Lab, DS Smith is actively investigating advanced technologies that elevate the functional and eco-friendly attributes of fibre-based packaging. Even in its early stages, the facility has yielded promising results in various key areas, such as optimising process chemistry, analysing macro-stickiness, and enhancing paper strength through additives.

Discover more circularity success stories!

Advantage Stretch Wrap for sustainable pallet wrapping (Mondi Group)
A pallet wrapping solution made from kraft paper, fully recyclable within paper recycling streams.

Alnatura Flour Bags (Sappi)
Block bottom bags for Alnatura’s flour product range, allowing the company to make the switch from a plastic film laminate to a single-ply paper solution.

Circular Design Metrics (DS Smith)
A pioneering tool to enable rating and comparing packaging design circularity across eight indicators.

DualPakECO (BASF-Confoil)
Certified compostable dual ovenable fibre-based food tray developed as a circular alternative to hard-torecycle conventional PET packaging for ready-to-eat meals.

Fibre Tray ‘Walki Pack Tray UR’ (Walki)
A paper-board laminate for trays that offers good fat barrier properties.

FunctionalBarrier Paper – recyclable solution for medium to very high barrier packaging (Mondi Group)
An ideal substitute for plastic laminate with customisable barrier properties.

Glue savings in folding carton and corrugated box production (Baumer)
A ‘Glue-Save-Mode’ that allows for over 50% adhesive savings in packaging manufacturing.

KeelClip (Graphic Packaging International)
A cutting-edge, fibre-based sustainable alternative to plastic rings and shrink wrap in beverage can multipacks.

Koehler NexPlus Advanced barrier paper (Koehler)
A highly sustainable, flexible packaging paper with essential features for applications involving direct contact with chocolate and nuts.

Light-weight fibre-based chocolate carton box (SunChemical)
A highly recyclable, lightweight fibre-based alternative for chocolate truffle packaging, previously containing 55% plastic.

Machine refurbishing (Bobst)
An exclusive reconditioning service for old equipment, following the circularity principle.

oneBARRIER FibreCycle (Bobst-UPM-Michelman)
A fibre-based and recyclable alternative to the multi-laminate plastic structures commonly used for long shelf-life products.

Paper Week (Comieco)
A platform that unites various nation-wide initiatives and communication campaigns centred around paper and cardboard recycling.

Recyclable Flow Wrap (Billerud)
A new paper barrier that works efficiently in packaging machines, offers excellent barrier properties, and is recyclable in the paper recycling process.