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Post published on 24/05/2021

1 EXSTRAWORDINARY Project

IMA and Transcend Packaging team up to devise a solution for paper straws that meets global brands’ need to remove single-use plastic.

The paper straw was an idea created in the late 19th century by the American inventor Marvin Stone, who transformed the habit of using rye grass for sipping a drink into the innovative spiral wound solution we know today.

While the plastic revolution in the sixties marked the beginning of the end for paper straws, today greater awareness about pollution, biodegradability and recyclability is pushing the market to return to a renewable material like paper.

Legislation is also helping to promote change. On April 2018 the European commission issued the directive that will ban all single use plastics from 2021.

Current market research estimates the global demand for industrial straws as approximately 400 billion per year. On that basis, IMA’s T&T division has decided to develop a new automatic line – from paper strips to corrugated and bended straws wrapped on a ladder band – to meet new market demands. The goal is a new generation design driven by efficiency, accessibility, modularity, flexibility, hygiene, cleanliness and definitely high speed.

This challenging project has involved close cooperation with the start-up Transcend Packaging, today’s market leader in the supply of paper straws. The solid relationship between the two companies has guaranteed a perfect approach to all possible problems and the right way to define products in line with the latest green specifications.

IMA T&T and transcend packaging

IMA T&T (Tobacco&Technology) is one of the big players in the tobacco market, from conventional products to RRPs (Reduce Risk Products) and NGPs (Next Generation Products). The presence of a small tube similar to a paper straw in many of these products has further motivated IMA T&T to invest in this direction. Transcend Packaging, founded in 2018, has rapidly become the leader in the production of paper straws for global quick service restaurants and food brands. Now it’s moving forward with the production of straws for aseptic cartons to fill what is a major gap in the market, creating a substantial opportunity for u-bend/ industrial straws to be made by Transcend Packaging in Wales and exported abroad.

Speaking with transcend

Why did you choose IMA as a partner to develop the ultimate paper straw machine?

IMA is a recognised leader in the production of advanced manufacturing machinery. Since Transcend has grown to a position of market leadership in paper straws, we were keenly aware not only of the challenges of making a straw with small dimensions, but also of the technical challenges of getting the proper bend on the straw to meet end-user requirements. We felt that a company with IMA’s expertise in understanding how to utilise paper in this format, along with its engineering and manufacturing expertise in making a “best in class” machine solution, made IMA the perfect fit as a partner for the next generation of paper straw manufacturing technology.

Can you describe your collaboration process with IMA?

The collaboration process with IMA was very productive, team oriented and results driven. From the beginning, we achieved alignment on the critical path to reach our production expectations for paper straw machine technology, which was driven by the end-user criteria of our clients and their customers. We drafted a detailed timetable to track development against the key project milestones and worked collaboratively with IMA to make sure our engineering innovations and solutions approach tracked the project’s requirements. All of this was achieved on schedule and in a manner that deepened the level of engagement and innovation between our two companies.

What were your critical requirements?

The critical requirements that helped define this project were driven by those of our clients. The number of paper straws that must be replaced runs into billions, so the quality and precision of our production machinery must be without equal. What’s more, the straws we produce for our clients must go on their production lines without making any changes. In a high-volume production operation, we require machine technology with high operating efficiency and minimal manual interference to maximize productivity. Lastly, IMA’s unique experience gave them the expertise to solve any challenging engineering obstacles associated with high production speeds.

What, in your opinion, will the future be for these eco-friendly products?

Across Europe and around the world, the message is clear: we are moving away from single-use plastics toward sustainable alternatives. With single-use plastic bans advancing around the world, the future of packaging is in formats that are recyclable and compostable. The advances in paper-straw making technology that we have developed with IMA will play an important role in this global trend toward sustainability.

There is a huge opportunity for companies at the cutting edge of this evolution toward ecofriendly products. The paper straw is at the forefront of this movement and represents a sensible compromise that will remove thousands of tons of single-use plastic each year. This is only the first in a series of innovations that we plan to introduce in the future and we are looking to continue developing with IMA to drive future innovation and bring additional sustainable products to the market.

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