Provincie Noord-Holland funds study into sustainable packaging material for ESD products.


Sustainable packaging materials for electrostatic discharge (ESD) sensitive products may soon be a step closer thanks to the MKB Innovatiestimulering Topsectoren (MIT) funding awarded to Pilotfish by the Provincie Noord-Holland to conduct feasibility research into paper-based alternatives. 

Logistics has developed significantly since the 20th century, but this progress has not been without consequences. The packaging industry has become a significant source of waste. Packaging plays a crucial role in transporting ESD-sensitive products, requiring materials suitable for both logistics and ESD protection. Shield bags, for example, contain metals, carbon-filled polymers, and certain types of coatings and are highly polluting and generate waste, prompting a need for innovative solutions to replace them in the packaging system.


Pilotfish is working with researcher Rodolphe Koehly to test the feasibility of a 100% recyclable and biodegradable material as an alternative to the current polymer-based ESD plastic packaging. The goal is to develop a universal, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly ESD protection material and/or product that will provide low to medium-level static and physical protection for objects vulnerable to electrostatic discharge. 


Mr Koehly, who is leading the research, says paper is a promising alternative to oil-based plastics and the research project is an important step towards addressing the environmental impact of the packaging industry. 


“If you look at ESD materials – there are many layers of plastic. We’re trying to reproduce the same concept but only with cellulose and carbon pigments, making it recyclable, renewable, producible, sustainable,” he says.  


“My paper has the ability to absorb the energy of the charge. Now we are trying to confirm that – I cannot say we’ve solved all the problems. There are some more tricky experiments that must be conducted, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t work.” 


Pilotfish Managing Director Harm Hogenbirk is optimistic about the project’s potential.  


“If we are able to bring this to life and create a commercial product to replace the ESD plastics, that’s potentially a dramatic impact on a global scale. But we still have a couple of very big challenges to conquer,” he says. 


There is also huge potential for the industry, with the ESD packaging market expected to increase from US$2 billion in 2023 to US$ 3.3 billion in 2033, according to Future Market Insights. 


The outcomes of the feasibility study are expected in May 2023. 

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