Kraft paper, also referred to as brown paper, currently accounts for approximately 80% of global paper production, owing to its unparalleled versatility. Its name is derived from the German word “kraft,” meaning strength or vigour, reflecting its ability to stand the test of time.
In this article, we will delve into the journey of kraft paper, from its origins to its impact on the modern world. We will explore the various available types, their key characteristics, and their contributions to sustainability. Prepare to immerse yourself in the captivating realm of kraft paper and comprehend why it is the material of the future for eco-friendly packaging.
Origins and history of kraft paper
Kraft paper was invented in Germany by Carl F. Dahl in 1879. Dahl discovered a new chemical process for making wood pulp from long wood fibres and patented it in 1884. Its use quickly spread to other countries.
The kraft process marked a significant advancement in paper production, enabling the cost-effective creation of high-quality kraft paper. Kraft paper became a popular material for packaging during World War II.
For over a century, kraft paper has been synonymous with quality and durability. However, it has not only proven to be robust but has also become an icon of sustainability. This paper is 100% recyclable and eco-friendly, making it an environmentally responsible choice.
Types of kraft paper
In today’s market, there are various types of kraft paper. It is essential to understand their unique characteristics to select the most suitable one for specific business needs.
- Natural kraft paper: an icon of strength and versatility
Natural kraft paper represents the classic version, recognizable by its matte and rustic appearance. It contains about 90% wood pulp. Its main features are tear resistance and rigidity, without the need for excessive thickness.
- Embossed kraft paper
Embossed kraft paper maintains the authenticity of natural kraft paper but differentiates itself with a characteristic cross-hatched texture. It offers exceptional strength, making it an ideal choice for various applications.
Within this category, Inviker’s first-grade kraft paper stands out. Crafted from 100% virgin long-fibre wood pulp, it combines exceptional strength with the distinctive cross-hatched texture.
- Creative kraft paper in various colours
Coloured kraft paper expands creative possibilities. Available in a wide range of colours, it is cherished in craft projects. Its softness and flexibility, with an approximate weight of 60 gsm, make it suitable for crafts and gifts, or in custom formats for showcasing business-related information.
- Elegance of white kraft paper
This type of paper offers durability and strength equivalent to natural kraft paper but undergoes a chemical bleaching process. It is the preferred choice when a sharper and more refined visual appearance is desired without sacrificing strength.
- Wax kraft paper: the optimal choice for the automotive industry
Waxed kraft paper combines the flexibility of kraft paper with a wax coating on both sides. Despite its flexibility, it retains the strength properties of natural kraft paper. This makes it the ideal choice for high protection packaging in the automotive and metallurgical industries, as it is resistant to grease and moisture.
- Sustainability in action: recycled kraft paper
Recycled kraft paper is an environmentally friendly choice, as it is made from 100% recycled materials. It offers an economical alternative compared to virgin kraft paper and is used in the production of packaging and boxes for products that do not require exceptional strength. Its natural colour is light brown.
Recycled kraft paper has gained popularity in the market, supporting sustainability by reducing the use of natural resources in its production.
At Inviker, we offer third-grade 100% recycled and recyclable kraft paper. This paper is more economical than first-grade paper and is ideal for applications where 100% virgin fibre is not required, such as inner box cushioning.
- Recycled Testliner
Testliner is another variety of kraft paper, 100% recycled and highly cost-effective. This type of paper has gained relevance in the industry as it is made from recycled materials, promoting the reuse of resources. Starch is added to ensure greater strength.
Its primary application is on the liner of corrugated cardboard, but it is also an optimal choice for painters or as filler material in boxes.
Within this category, you will find Inviker’s bicolor testliner paper.
Characteristics of kraft paper
Kraft paper is a lignocellulosic material essentially consisting of wood pulp chemically treated in an alkaline medium with sodium hydroxide and sodium sulphide. Its chemical composition comprises 90% cellulose, with reduced amounts of lignin (6 – 7%) and hemicelluloses (3 – 4%).
Cellulose – one of the most abundant biopolymers in nature
Lignin – a compound that provides stiffness and structure to wood
Hemicelluloses – act as a support matrix for cellulose microfibrils and facilitate the connection between lignin and cellulose
There are various kraft paper variants with different weights, ranging from 20 gsm to 120 gsm, depending on the intended use. Its characteristic colour is brown, and although it is possible to dye it in other colours nowadays, its natural tone exudes warmth, craftsmanship, and a rustic ambiance.
Kraft paper is obtained through a chemical process known as kraft pulping. In this process, trees are mechanically reduced to wood chips that are combined with a chemical solution consisting of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulphide to remove impurities, retaining only strong and robust fibres. Subsequently, these fibres undergo a high-temperature and pressure cooking process.
The treated material undergoes a washing process that separates the wood pulp, with about 50% of the original wood weight dissolving. The resulting pulp after the washing process has an opaque brown colour and is ready for further transformation into paper or for a chemical bleaching process.
The natural colour of kraft paper is light brown, as no dyes are added during its manufacturing. Common examples include kraft paper bags used in supermarkets and food establishments.
However, in today’s market, a wide variety of colours can be found, from classic ones like white and dark blue to more vibrant shades like red, gold, orange, and others.
The texture of kraft paper can vary depending on the type, including options like the classic texture of embossed kraft paper that provides a distinctive touch to 100% virgin first-grade kraft paper.
Strength is a prominent feature of kraft paper. Despite its relative thinness compared to other types of paper, its long-fibre structure and manufacturing process provide exceptional tear resistance and durability. This strength is particularly valuable in packaging applications, where kraft paper can withstand stresses and effectively protect the products inside.
Uses and applications of kraft paper: beyond packaging
Due to the versatility of this product, its applications are diverse and extend across various industries. Its primary use lies in products such as bags, envelopes, tapes, multi-layer sacks, bituminous, wax or coated papers, electrical insulators in industrial transformers, corrugated structures, and packaging for large-volume products.
Different types of kraft paper are used for transporting, packing, wrapping, or protecting. Being a highly malleable material, it adapts to various needs, as we will see below.
Industrial kraft paper is an essential material in industrial packaging. It is used in the production of boxes, bags, envelopes, corrugated cardboard, and other packaging materials to protect products during transportation and storage. Its strength and durability ensure that products reach their destination in perfect condition, offering protection against minor incidents during handling.
When subjected to specific treatments or coatings, this paper enhances its protective properties and, therefore, the range of applications in the industrial packaging field.
Additionally, due to the growing importance consumers place on environmental conservation and new legislative requirements, kraft paper for packaging is an ideal choice to meet current regulations, reduce costs, and enhance brand image.
Filling and cushioning
In packaging, kraft paper is used as cushioning to protect fragile products. When crumpled, its ability to absorb impacts and tear resistance makes it ideal to ensure that delicate items do not get damaged during shipping.
Due to its lightness and reusability, it is commonly used as filling in empty spaces within boxes, especially in its more affordable versions, preventing products from moving within the package.
Material for bags
Kraft paper is used in the creation of eco-friendly bags. These bags are popular in stores, supermarkets, and restaurants. They represent an environmentally responsible option and can be customised with logos and designs.
Paper for painters
Kraft paper plays an essential role in the painting industry. It proves to be a versatile companion in this field, serving the dual purpose of protecting surrounding surfaces and aiding in the creation of patterns and designs for various projects.
Its strength and capacity to absorb paint splatters turn it into the perfect choice for maintaining a tidy work area. This, in turn, enables painters to focus on their craft without fretting about accidental damage to undesired surfaces, facilitating the expression of their creative talents.
Kraft paper is essential in applications such as floor and pavement protection, encapsulation of materials such as asbestos, and protecting walls from moisture and mould in building construction.
In the food industry, kraft paper plays a fundamental role, appreciated for its versatility and sustainability. It is extensively utilised to craft sturdy and eco-friendly packaging, guaranteeing the preservation and protection of both dry and moist food products during their transit and storage.
Its capacity to safeguard product integrity without necessitating plastic coatings positions it as the top choice within this sector, where quality and food safety are of paramount importance. Whether it’s wrapping sandwiches and snacks or packaging grains and baked goods, kraft paper consistently proves itself as a dependable solution.
Given the stringent regulations in the food industry, the meticulous tracking of material composition holds vital importance. Therefore, premium first-grade kraft paper, derived from 100% virgin pulp, is preferred in this setting.
Florists and crafts
Florists use kraft paper to wrap bouquets of flowers and arrangements. Additionally, it is appreciated in crafts and DIY projects for its versatility and unique texture.
Moreover, kraft paper remains a favoured option for gift wrapping all year round. It introduces uniqueness and eco-friendliness to gift displays and can be tailored for various occasions. It complements ribbons, twine, and ornaments, elevating the presentation for a more enticing look.
Sustainability and certifications in the paper industry
Selecting paper products with these certifications guarantees quality, sustainability, and compliance with environmental and social standards. Some of the key certifications that consumers and businesses should seek include:
- FSC (Forest Stewardship Council): ensures that kraft paper originates from sustainably managed forests.
- PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification): similar to FSC, advocates for sustainable forest management and wood traceability.
- ISO 14001: the environmental management certification applicable to organisations striving to reduce their environmental impact.
- ISO 9001: related to quality management, relevant for companies engaged in paper product manufacturing, assuring adherence to quality standards.
- ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) and TCF (Totally Chlorine Free): certifications related to the bleaching process of paper pulp.
- Chain of Custody Certification: traces the provenance of paper products within the supply chain, ensuring their origin and sustainability.
- EU Ecolabel: a European Union accreditation bestowed upon environmentally friendly products.
Environmental advantages of kraft paper
Kraft paper stands as an environmentally responsible selection. The management of forests in a sustainable manner for wood pulp production plays a pivotal role in this regard.
The manufacturing process of kraft paper exhibits superior resource efficiency when compared to other paper variants, thereby minimising waste and diminishing the carbon footprint. Additionally, it undergoes strict waste management protocols, averting environmental degradation.
Notably, natural kraft paper emerges as a sustainable preference. Its robustness and longevity facilitate numerous reuses, thereby mitigating the necessity for additional paper manufacturing. Furthermore, it boasts 100% recyclability, simplifying the conversion into fresh paper products. This material decomposes entirely within a mere 2 to 6 weeks and generates no toxic waste during the process.
Recycling and reuse: paving the way for a sustainable future
The life cycle of sustainable kraft paper includes not just responsible production but also recycling and reusing. With the increasing emphasis on sustainability, recycling kraft paper has become a common practice.
Consumers and businesses can contribute to the sustainable circle of kraft paper in several ways:
- Recycling: kraft paper is highly recyclable. Properly collecting and recycling it diminishes the need for virgin wood pulp and preserves natural resources.
- Reuse: kraft paper, particularly in its 100% virgin first-grade form, is durable and can be repurposed. Companies can advocate for the reuse of kraft paper in their operations, while consumers can explore creative methods to give it a second lease of life.
For instance, crumpling kraft paper gift wrap or bags and using them as cushioning material inside shipping boxes.
- Responsible waste management: the proper disposal of kraft paper, whether through recycling or reusing, plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability by considerably reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills.
Paper packaging and bags should be deposited in the designated recycling containers, provided they are uncontaminated by organic residues. Before disposal, any other materials they might contain, such as fabric or metal components, should be removed.
The future of kraft paper
The history of kraft paper, rooted in its strength, versatility, and sustainability, establishes it as a valuable asset across multiple industries. From its essential role in industrial packaging to its application in artistic endeavours and the promotion of eco-conscious brands, kraft paper holds a prominent place. Its diverse grades, ranging from first-grade kraft paper to 100% recycled testliner, offer businesses tailored solutions for their industrial packaging requirements.
Kraft paper’s ability to adapt to a wide range of applications, its versatility in terms of colours and textures, and its remarkable strength make it a logical choice for both businesses and consumers.
At Inviker, we go the extra mile by providing tailor-made solutions for every business. We offer kraft paper in rolls, or we can cut it to fit perfectly around the products you need to package. Whether it’s larger rolls for bigger items or smaller ones for easier manual handling, we adapt to your requirements.
Our products strictly adhere to the highest sustainability and quality standards. If you wish to discover more about how kraft paper can transform your operations or projects into a more sustainable alternative, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. Explore how kraft paper can become the ideal solution for your industrial packaging needs.