In addition to trays and bags made from paper and cardboard, other packaging solutions made from alternative, resource-saving materials are also rapidly gaining in importance. At expoSE 2023, for example, the ecological, nature-based cellulose nets from NaturNetz GmbH were honored with the Innovation Award. "We are delighted that our commitment has been recognized. Not only do we offer machine-compatible solutions, but we also make it possible to buy the required materials directly from the manufacturer, which is particularly appreciated by customers," says Dietmar Baumeister, who is at the helm of the young company together with Sylvia Segeler.
NaturNetz GmbH was officially founded in February 2023. "The trend continues to move away from plastic, especially for fruit and vegetables. With our existing company, Erich Baumeister GmbH, we have been offering sustainable bundling processes based on natural yarn for many years. However, we realized that it would be difficult to meet the increasing demand for sustainable packaging solutions with bundles alone. This gave rise to the idea of including net packaging in our portfolio," explained Segeler during a discussion at the expoSE trade fair in Karlsruhe.
Co-operations and trade fair dates
Various machine designs and yarns were tested based on this basic idea. Segeler: "We initially wanted to use jute, but that didn't work for a number of reasons. We then looked around for other materials and came across Lyocell fibers from Lenzing AG. The advantage of these cellulose fibers is that they are made from beech wood, which is why they are 100 percent compostable and therefore biodegradable within twelve weeks."
Mesh cover for nuts. Because they are compostable, there is no need to pay for disposal. The nets are produced in Germany and, therefore, have short delivery times, according to the manufacturer.
The development of sustainable mesh packaging is only just beginning, emphasizes the team at NaturNetz GmbH. "We want to grow and improve together with our customers and are open to any applications and inquiries." So far, the solution is primarily used in the packaging of Christmas trees. The company could already attract customers for the solution throughout the DACH region. "Soon, we will also be attending the agricultural fair Sival in France, as this market offers interesting possibilities regarding the legislation around fruit and vegetable packaging. We are also exhibiting at IPM in Essen because we see interesting application potential for root balls in ornamental plants." In the field of fruits and vegetables, packaging in the range of 1 to 2.5 kg, such as for apples and potatoes, is particularly well-received. "However, we can also supply small packages weighing 250-500 grams for nuts or garlic."
Use in the conventional sector
It is still a niche market, confirms Segeler. Despite the sharp rise in costs, many organic and Demeter farms are still willing to invest in sustainable packaging. "The conventional sector also has to adapt, if only for image reasons. Of course, the development in this segment is not happening so quickly, as the margins have to be recalculated accordingly. However, I am convinced that this topic will also gain a foothold in the conventional sector as plastic is increasingly being dispensed with. It will certainly not be possible to use net packaging everywhere. We have now developed a net cover for the classic nuts, such as stone fruit and soft fruit, but also soup vegetables, which has also been very well received," concludes the management.
Sylvia Segeler and Dietmar Baumeister won the coveted Innovation Award at expoSE in Karlsruhe. The company's innovative cellulose nets can theoretically be supplied in any desired color.
Visit the two companies, Erich Baumeister GmbH and NaturNetz GmbH, at the IPM in Essen: Stand 3A73
Images: NaturNetz GmbH