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Speaker Interview with Yangi Founder, Anna Altner

Ahead of the upcoming Specialty Papers Europe conference, taking place in Vienna on 5-6 September, we spoke to Anna to get a sneak peek of her presentation and to understand more about dry forming technology.

You're going to be presenting about “Dry forming –a disruptive technology with the potential to replace plastic packaging, at scale. What are some of the key takeaways?

Introducing a new groundbreaking technology for the packaging industry – that is not only cost-and-resource efficient but directly supports brands in reaching their NetZero targets - makes it possible for us to reshape the packaging value chain. By offering new types of partnerships to jointly build strong collaborations targeting future-proof and sustainable solutions from raw materials to end-of-life, we make it easy for brands and converters to switch part of their product portfolio to fibre-based alternatives, supporting them in reaching their sustainability goals.

What are the key environmental benefits of dry forming technology and why this new technology is so disruptive?

Our dry forming technology is a combination of air-laid formation and fast pressing that utilizes cellulose fibres to create 3D-formed packaging without the need to dissolve the fibres in water, which is what makes it so disruptive.

Based on 10 years of R&D, we can produce 3D-formed packaging directly from cellulose pulp in one machine line at a 30% lower cost than existing fibre-based solutions using minimal process water resulting in 75% less energy use than wet molding and 75% lower CO2 emissions than plastic.

Yangi can support brands and converters to hit their sustainability targets by having them shift part of their product portfolio to produce cellulose-based packaging that is not only resource efficient but also only uses 100% renewable and recyclable materials that fit into existing recyclable systems.  

How does the dry forming process differ from other sustainable packaging solutions currently on the market?

Yangi aims to replace 25% of rigid thermoformed plastics in packaging. There are other alternative technologies that can be used for the same available on the market that produces fibre-based packaging such as wet molding, paper forming, and bioplastics. However, each comes with a large set of setbacks.

  • Wet molding is an established technology that comes with a high entry barrier and expensive tooling, a labor-intense and slower production process as well as high cost and high energy consumption.
  • Paper forming is a current alternative to plastic that comes with an expensive production process, high production waste, and limitations in formability.
  • Bioplastics is a growing market; however, their sustainability claims are doubtful. This solution is currently non-compliant with single-use plastic directives and is not recyclable. It is also an expensive material of which there is limited availability.

In comparison, dry forming is a new technology that has a lower barrier entry, offers cheaper tooling, and easier prototyping, is a low-cost solution with low cycle times, and consumes low energy and minimal water. 

What are you most looking forward to hearing about at this year’s conference?

First off, I want to say that it is an honor for me to be asked to speak at this year’s conference so thank you for the opportunity to present our groundbreaking work. I feel humbled to be featured amongst such an impressive panel of expert speakers.

Looking at this year’s agenda, I am very much looking forward to learning more about L’Oréal and Nestle’s sustainability strategy going forward. Additionally, the discussions around innovation and progress with barrier solutions intrigue me since this is work that my team and I are heavily involved in, currently participating in 3 major R&D initiatives to develop high-barrier solutions for fibre-based packaging.

Anna will be presenting as part of the 'moulded pulp - is it a new specialty for pulp and papermakers?' this September. Other speakers in the session include:

  • Latest in pulp/fibre forming - Kent Johansson, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing, TPM (Taiwan Pulp Moulding)