Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NDTMF (New Drying Techniques for Moulded Fibres)
Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31
With the intent of focusing on the product specific example usage of the technological development, the Green Fiber Bottle, this action was conducted in order to examine the relevant context and market situation of such a product. Additionally, EcoXpac desired to map both interaction with potential customers based on currently implemented go-to-market strategy.
Content and objectives for Action 2: Carry out organoleptic studies in EU+US
The relevant context of this action was to gain insight into direct consumer feedback from a selection of food categories, when served in fiber-based packaging.
The action is centered on sensory experiences with direct contact and consumption from prototype Green Fiber Bottle designs.
As initial feedback may aid in shaping final Green Fiber Bottle form and product segments, this was important to include early in the project.
Content and objectives for Action 3: Identify and establish relations to potential customers.
To ensure a higher level of potential impact upon commercialization, it was important to identify and establish initial relations to users.
In the case of the Green Fiber Bottle such customers were deemed Original Equipment Manufacturers, especially those within the Food Stuffs and Fast Moving Consumer Goods category.
Additionally to increasing potential impact, the action was intended to acquire crucial market information and preference information from the customers.
Content and objectives for Action 4: Identify and team up with partners with expertise in porous tools.
As porous tools and the related flow and strength of such tools are key to the successful implementation of Impulse Drying Technology, it was relevant to ensure that competences within this field are available during project development.
While such development does not carry direct relation to the intended development to occur in Phase 2 of this project, it is essential to ensure parallel development within this field.
Furthermore, the competencies are to provide overall project development context and supply input to the intended development scheduled for Phase 2.
Content and objectives for Action 5: Identify and team up with partners with expertise in flexible inner core.
The flexible inner core is one of the key development aspects of Impulse Drying Technology. As large demands are set for such a core, partners with existing and relevant knowledge to the project will enable a faster development.
This entails that material identification can also be based on data from existing partners, rather than having a project need to determine characteristic through testing for all potential base material samples.
Content and objectives for Action 6: Identify and team up with partners with expertise in raw materials.
As the composition of the raw material itself, the paper fibers in a pulp mixture, also has an effect on the process technology, the context of this action to the project is to have a documented and repeatable process for the raw material.
Knowledge within paper fiber composition and structure is centered within research organizations and larger packaging manufacturers; however, such information is also highly quantifiable and therefore available through network establishment.
Content and objectives for Action 7: Analyse IPR strategy and develop Freedom-to-Operate analysis
With the help of its legal patenting agency, Plougmann & Vingtoft A/S, ecoXpac conducts an analysis into any conflicting existing patents or application related to the Impulse Drying Technology.
The context of this action to the total project is to ensure usage rights for the technology upon development, which would otherwise be detrimental to the potential impact.
Content and objectives for Action 8: Mitigate technical risks.
To ensure adherence to the intended project development, the aim of this action was to identify and evaluate interdependence and potential development shortfalls that may pose a risk.
Additionally, it for the shortfalls, or problematic areas of development, initial risk management helped identify areas of knowledge that needed extensive partnership establishment and/or further development.
Content and objectives for Action 9: Compliance study
To ensure that projected development results would be directly implementable into industrial environment; be it full implementation for Green Fiber Bottle production or developed process innovation.
The objective was additionally to identify legislation on national and European level that hold relevance or would impact the project.
Thereby, ecoXpac chose to use the five principles of effectuation as presented by Saras Sarasvathy. From this decision process, a Customer-Problem-Solution (CPS) hypothesis was formed that would be tested during the course of the SME Phase 1 program.
Through the principles of effectuation and testing of a CPS-hypothesis, ecoXpac was able to identify two separate but equally important market needs the GFB product concept can provide a solution:
1) Customers consisting of FMCG producers and manufacturers with strategies to reduce their own energy consumption and emissions.
2) Customers consisting of FMCG producers and manufacturers that have a need to differentiate their product lines through new packaging solutions.
The regions selected for the initial introduction of the GFB product concept, with the current identified OEMs, are Europe, Eastern Europe including Russia, and Asia. This was validated through the analysis of the go-to-market strategy of EcoXpac.
As the selection criteria for this decision are based on an extensive analysis, it has not been included in the summary. The selection criteria take their start from a PESTLE analysis model.
Additionally, the current intended user of the Green Fiber Bottle, Carlsberg Breweries, has aided in the initial definition of the potential usage regions and scenarios for the product concept. Additionally, Carlsberg Breweries have aided in creation of project awareness through a multitude of communications channels; notably the presentation of a prototype bottle by Chairman of the Supervisory Board Carlsberg and the Carlsberg Foundation, at the 2015 World Economic Forum at Davos.
Through the continuous efforts of ecoXpac, the company has managed to establish a range of relationships to potential customers, other organizations, for which the alternative paper fiber basis holds interest. These companies are intentionally wide spread in their representative product categories, in order to demonstrate the extensive potential in paper fiber containers produced with competitive drying technologies, such as Impulse Drying.
With the help of its legal patenting agency, ecoXpac has conducted an analysis into any conflicting existing patents or application related to the Impulse Drying Technology. This analysis was conducted by completing a patent application for the technology ecoXpac aims to develop. The continued IPR strategy for ecoXpac is to fully apply for the technology rights on the basis of the patent application made in collaboration with its external legal department.
EcoXpac has been involved in strengthening its network within categories of porous tools, flexible core, and raw materials also defined as fiber base. These efforts have yielded positive results in both strengthening existing connections and understanding the competencies present within the network, as well as notably expanding the network of EcoXpac with additional commercial entities, university departments, other SMEs with, and larger packaging producers. Additionally, EcoXpac has become involved in interest organizations, such as Plastic Change where the company serves on the advisory board of the organization.
To aid in risk minimization for complete technology implementation collaborations were establish outside of the parameters of the Horizon 2020 SME programme. The collaboration aimed at developing porous tools subject to external and internal pressure while an internal heating occurs, has been subject of much preliminary analysis. The preliminary analysis indicated, that while development of pressurised porous tools, also defined as moulds, is possible, it cannot be fully implemented without accounting for the process such tools undergo. As a result, the collaboration between DTU, ecoXpac, and the commercial partner, is focused around three development areas: Product, Mold, and Process Design.
The flexible core involved in process development, which will be made from elastic material, falls outside the core competencies of EcoXpac. Therefore, initial testing to aid in understanding was conducted through in-house trials. These trials was followed up with the order of tailor made specimens to test. When these industrially produced cores have been tested, further action will be taken on that basis.
To ensure adherence and compliance related to both machinery and product, a study into relevant compliance and standards has been conducted for both.
Due the developmental nature of the project, this study has been based on previously developed functional production equipment, as well as an estimation and determination of processes and functions that are likely to be included in the development of Impulse Drying technology. The study, along with partner identification concerning competences in the legislative field, concluded in the documentation of all relevant national and European legislation to be considered during development. As was revealed in the market analysis, the geographical segments for initial market introduction of the product does not include the American market. As such, compliance with considerations to the rulings of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were not included in the study.
Ideal markets for impact were identified as those regions with low-recycling rates of plastics or high material leakage into surrounding and especially oceanic environment; while the material leakage aspect is difficult to define, it will be evaluated in a comparative calculation of estimated import of plastic bottle packaging for food materials and reclaimed amount of bottles within the same yearly period. By reducing the initial goal of worldwide market penetration, the impact is designed to prove an environmental and societal beneficial aspect within the select European and Asian market regions.
The full impact goal is still determined for worldwide adaptation to fiber based packaging, but will suffer from efforts being spread too thin if attempted to be done simultaneously.
In order to identify the geographical region(s) in which the GFB is to be introduced first, EcoXpac has compiled a PESTEL analysis. Not all elements of this analysis have been found relevant to the GFB, and focus has been on the political, environmental, legislative and technological aspects of the relevant markets.
In the most recent estimation available concerning total yearly inflow of litter into the world’s oceans, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported in 1997 at 6.4 million ton of litter . The collection of these 588 studies was conducted at sites ranging from shoreline locations to deep ocean floors and in cooperation with a variety of projects, predominantly the HERMIONE project.
The HERMOINE project is dedicated to investigation of aquatic ecosystems. At every location, the studies discovered litter material to be present in varying degrees of concentration. In addition to examining litter concentration, the studies also examined the litter composition. The information gathered, revealed that while each region had a varying degree of primary litter material, the most overall prevalent was plastic at 41% of total materials collected. By comparison another category covering all materials made from wood, paper, cardboard, clothing, pottery, and other non-identifiable material only accounted for 13% of the litter.
A 2014 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found the addition of 1.8 billion middle class consumers worldwide by 2025 would lead to a 47% increase in demand for packaging, which in turn would pressure the commodity markets unless resource extraction, for traditional packaging solutions, increase at the same rate. The same report found issues relating to material leakage, where a material in a country with the infrastructure for reclaiming packaging material such as bottles, by analyzing return rates. In the case of Denmark, which has a fully implemented return of bottle packaging system for plastics, a total of 10-11% of the bottles did not end in the intended deposit streams. This in turn is harmful to Circular Economy, as the material leakage equals a loss in available material throughout the production streams.
Although similar leakage could occur with fiber based packaging, such an event would not lead to detrimental effects of the surrounding environment. Additionally, through use of paper cascading of the recollected fiber bottles, the material base holds the potential for reintroduction into production lines similar to that of the closed loop recycling of the plastics industry.
As a means of maximizing impact and awareness among larger companies, a prototype of the Green Fiber Bottle concept was presented at the 2015 World Economic Forum by Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of Supervisory Board at Carlsberg A/S.