What is Kraft Papers & Its Significance in the Packaging Industry?

What is Kraft Paper

Historically, Kraft Paper has been used in the packaging industry for decades, and its popularity is increasing again as eco-friendly packaging is becoming popular.

There is no doubt that kraft packaging has a lot of popularity among other packaging, and it is growing rapidly. But the question remains the same, why is that?

Let’s dig deeper to understand what kraft paper is and its significance.

What is Kraft Paper?

Kraft paper, named after the Kraft pulping process developed by Carl F. Dahl in Germany in the 1880s, is widely used for packaging. Kraft paper, or kraft board, is a paper product made from chemical pulp produced during the kraft process. Kraft sack paper has high tear resistance and elasticity, making it a perfect packaging material for products with high strength and durability requirements.

It is ideal for manufacturing various packaging products which include, wrapping papers, folding cartons, sturdy cartons, and even rigid setup boxes. Kraft paper board can be found in various thickness levels depending on the product density and requirements which makes it a highly versatile option for branded packaging solutions.

Kraft Paper Production Process

The kraft paper manufacturing goes through several vital stages that are explained below:

  1. Pulping: Kraft paper production begins with a chemical pulping method using a solution known as “sulfate.” This process preserves the long, robust fibers found in wood, resulting in paper with exceptional tear-resistance and strength.
  1. Screening and Washing: After pulping, the mixture undergoes screening to eliminate impurities and uncooked wood chips. The resultant pulp is then bathed to remove any residual chemicals and by-products from the pulping process.
  1. Bleaching: In some instances, depending on the desired final color and paper properties, the pulp may undergo a bleaching process to eliminate any remaining impurities further and achieve the desired brightness.
  1. Paper Formation:  To make paper, the pulp is first washed and then mixed with water to create a slurry. This slurry is then poured onto a moving wire mesh conveyor, called the “forming section” of the paper machine. As the water drains through the mesh, the fibers gradually bond together, forming a continuous mat of wet pulp, which is known as the paper web.
  1.  Pressing: The paper web is passed between large rollers to extract excess water and enhance its density.
  1. Drying: The partially formed paper is then transported through a series of heated rollers to eliminate any remaining moisture. The heat applied during this phase sets the paper’s fibers, providing it with its ultimate strength and rigidity.
  1. Winding and Cutting: Finally, the finished kraft paper is wound onto large rolls and can be cut into various sizes and formats tailored to its intended purpose.

Difference Between Kraft Paper & Regular Paper

You might wonder that it’s just a paper, what makes it special from the regular paper?

Simply put, kraft paper goes through the pulping process as mentioned before, and then lignin is stripped which gives the paper durable characteristics.

Plus kraft paper is more porous as compared to regular paper, which makes it less effective for printing colors, but it is extremely suitable for the finishing process, which includes embossing, debossing, and hot foil stamping.

Significance of Kraft Paper in The Packaging Industry

Kraft paper holds a lot of significance when it comes to packaging as it is primarily used in corrugated boxes and is also becoming popular for carton boxes as well.

The durability of kraft paper allows e-commerce industries to be rest assured that their products will reach their customers in pristine condition and ensure that they will withstand harsh conditions of shipping.

The rustic and raw appearance of brown kraft paper carton boxes also helps businesses achieve their sustainability goals and demonstrate their eco-friendly initiatives. The packaging industry today has a wide range of innovative packaging options utilizing Kraft paper. 

Types of Kraft Paper

Coated Unbleached Kraft (CUK)

  • No bleaching or additional chemicals needed in the Kraft process.
  • Solid Unbleached Sulfate (SUS).
  • Made of 80% virgin fiber wood pulp.
  • High tear resistance and durable without being too thick

Solid Bleached Kraft Paper (SBS)

  • Preferred for packaging luxury or high-end products due to its smooth surface and bright appearance.
  • Enhances printing quality and provides a premium look and feel.
  • The bleaching process has environmental impacts

Coated Recycled Board (CRB)

  • Made from 100% recycled kraft paper.
  • Specifications are lower than SBS due to the lack of virgin fiber.
  • Low-cost, ideal for packaging where durability is not crucial, such as cereal boxes.
  • Cost-effective, allowing manufacturers to pass savings to consumers and gain a market advantage.

For folding cartons, the above materials are common. For corrugated boxes, additional strength is achieved by layering kraft paper, a process known as ‘fluting’.

Benefits of Kraft Paper

  • Superior Strength and Protection: Offers excellent durability.
  • Eco-Friendly: 100% biodegradable, decomposing naturally within a few weeks.
  • Recyclable: Can be recycled for new packaging.
  • Environmental Impact: Leaves no lasting impact on the environment.
  • Market Advantage: Using eco-friendly and recycled packaging can boost sales as consumers increasingly value environmental responsibility.

Environmental Impact of Kraft Paper

Kraft paper’s environmental impact is a key consideration when selecting it as a packaging material. Made from wood pulp, kraft paper is more sustainable than many other packaging options.

Key environmental benefits of kraft paper include:

  • Biodegradability: It naturally decomposes, reducing long-term environmental impact.
  • Recyclability: Kraft paper can be recycled, lowering its environmental footprint compared to any other packaging.

However, the kraft manufacturing process uses chemicals to break down wood chips, which can harm the environment if not managed correctly. To mitigate this, many manufacturers adopt sustainable practices, such as:

  • Using renewable energy sources.
  • Minimizing chemical waste.

Overall, kraft paper has become an environmentally friendly packaging option to many alternatives that are available on the market today.

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