Sulapac Solid – the ultimate plastic replacement in reusable tableware
Replacing single-use items with reusable ones is an important aspect in reaching a more sustainable future. However, making sturdier plastic tableware out of oil, that cannot be effectively recycled and that releases harmful microplastics and toxic substances throughout the product life cycle is not the way to do it. Instead, one should opt for plastic replacement materials that are bio-based, recyclable, and safe for people and the planet, like Sulapac Solid. Read about the extraordinary characteristics and usage possibilities of this groundbreaking material innovation initially developed for reusable tableware.
Plastic alternative material with unique set of characteristics
Imagine a bio-based and biodegradable material that can replace fossil-fuel-based plastics for reusable everyday items. A material that contains zero fossil-based raw materials but has the strength to be used, washed, and reused – over and over again. A material that doesn’t emit permanent microplastics in any stage of its life cycle. Well, this material exists. It’s called Sulapac Solid.
Solid is also a truly circular solution as it can be recycled in a highly efficient polymer-to-polymer process whereby the recyclate can be used to create new food contact quality products. Chemical recycling of Solid and other bio-based and biodegradable materials requires much lower temperatures and brings much higher yields compared to the recycling of conventional plastics. Most of all, the process can be repeated almost limitless times without any effect on quality.
Addressing a market gap: demand for reusable and recyclable plastic-like material without the downsides of plastic
As legislation, within the EU and elsewhere, is restricting the use of single-use products and companies worldwide are focusing more and more on reusability, we looked at the global market – and it seemed that a truly sustainable solution for a range of reusable consumer items was missing. This is why we created Sulapac Solid – a sustainable injection molding material ideal for everyday items such as kitchenware, tableware and cosmetics.
Solid is unlike any other plastic alternative because it merges reusability, durability and impact strength with eco-safety. The material is certified industrially compostable by BPI meaning it has gone through rigorous ecotoxicity tests. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that Solid is biodegradable also in open environments like sea water*. This means that Sulapac Solid does not release permanent microplastics so it’s safe to use and safe for the planet: if it would end up in the environment, naturally occurring microbes can digest it into CO2, water and biomass.
*Relative biodegradation of 77,3% in 420 days in simulated marine environment test (ASTM D6691 86 °F/30 °C) using natural sea water. Not considered biodegradable in California.
The rigorous product development paid off – Solid makes no compromises
“When the idea got to the R&D department’s table in the first place, it sounded like a mission impossible to combine biodegradability with high durability together with high heat resistance and water tolerance,” admits Heidi Peltola, Head of R&D at Sulapac.
However, with a team filled with strong polymer science and chemistry knowledge, combined with determination and a clear target, anything is possible. Through extensive material development and dozens of trials, the right solution was found.
After the recipe development phase, careful validation of the intended characteristics and a quality and compliance assurance process took place followed by tests that ensured the material’s suitability for and performance in mass-production.
“Solid performs like a partnership of the best characteristics of plastics and ceramics – it has a pleasant premium touch, yet it is lightweight and durable,” describes Peltola.
Indeed, Solid has a beautiful, unique look & feel, a premium touch, which is why many premium brands prefer Solid over polypropylene, for example. Its high impact and heat resistance* makes it versatile and durable, providing the best user experience and making it perfect for reuse. It can be washed, rewashed, and used again and again. And it does all of this without compromising on sustainability.
*Please note that if the end product needs to be resistant to high temperatures (HDT-B 130 °C)6, the minimum mold temperature is 100°C.
Solid makes sustainable reusability a reality
At the core of Solid is the guarantee of sustainable reusability. Solid was initially developed for reusable kitchenware – especially coffee cups – to replace conventional plastics like polypropylene and materials such as melamine and ceramics.
With Solid, you can proudly say that your products has all the following properties:
- 100% biobased content
- Safe to use in repeated food contact
- Verified chemically recyclable
- No microplastic pollution
In addition, Solid as a material has a low carbon footprint (0,57 kg CO2Eq/kg*). By adopting Solid instead of conventional plastics, companies can be sure that no toxic traces or microplastics are left behind from the material at any stage of an item’s lifecycle – whether that be production, use, washing or disposal.
*The results of the Sulapac materials are based on critically reviewed cradle-to-gate LCA performed by an independent third-party consultancy. Biogenic carbon (carbon sequestration) included.
Famous design house Marimekko uses Solid in its Marimade collection of everyday items
If you’re looking for examples of the kinds of items Solid can be used for, just take a peek at what Marimekko has created with the material.
The range of items in Marimekko’s Marimade line includes cups, plates and lunch boxes made of Sulapac Solid. Based on a sustainable approach, Marimekko’s design philosophy and operations aim to provide timeless, functional and durable products, which is why Solid is a perfect match for Marimekko Marimade.
A different kind of example of using Solid is Kamupak’s reusable packaging as a service concept, whereby cups made of Sulapac Solid are part of Kamupak’s rental offering for restaurant, catering and event businesses, for example. The cups are reused and washed at least 125 times and in their end-of-life collected for recycling.
Solid brings items to life with vivid colors
As beautifully showcased by the Marimekko Marimade products, Sulapac Solid offers a variety of colors that can be tailored according to customer’s wishes.
There are two options to achieve the perfect tone: one is to use readily colored granules, and the other is to select from a range of Sulapac color masterbatches that comply with the highest sustainability and quality criteria.
The pre-colored Solid is available in natural, black, and white – perfect for the needs of the cosmetics and packaging sector.
How to get started with Solid
If you’re looking to make the change to reusable, low carbon footprint material that leaves no harmful microplastics behind, our experts are happy to help you. Please note, that Sulapac Solid is also available with recycled content!
Transitioning from traditional plastic to Solid is effortlessly seamless. With Solid, you can manufacture products and packaging using the same injection molding machines that are used for conventional plastic. Our comprehensive technical documentation provides clear and precise instructions, ensuring a smooth transition. Additionally, our dedicated technical team is always on standby, ready to assist you in optimizing your processes whenever necessary. At Sulapac we also make sure you’ll get the expertise and support you need for a successful launch. Have a look at some of our customer cases and get inspired!
Sulapac Ltd accelerates the plastic waste-free future by helping companies replace conventional plastic with sustainable, beautiful and functional materials that are circular by design. The company was founded in 2016 by three scientists Dr. Suvi Haimi, Dr. Laura Tirkkonen-Rajasalo and Dr. Antti Pärssinen, and was ranked one of Europe’s 100 hottest startups by WIRED UK in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Investors behind Sulapac®, the award-winning, patented material innovation include CHANEL and Sky Ocean Ventures.