Infinitely Better Recycled Containerboard

Saica, a family-owned Spanish paper and packaging business, developed a cost-effective, ‘green’ solution to meet growing demand for white-grade top-coated paper (testliners). Thanks to EUREKA pre-market support, that technology is now being applied at a new production plant.


With 75 years of experience, S.A. Industria Celulosa Aragonesa (Saica) is now a leading producer of sustainable solutions for paper and corrugated board packaging. Research and innovation has played a major role in the company’s successful navigation of a changing industry marked by ever-growing demand for recycled paper products and dwindling raw materials, both virgin and secondary feedstocks.

Growing consumer awareness and new legislation (EU and national) about packaging, recycling and wider ‘circular economy’ measures tackling waste are all positive developments for the environment. But for industries relying on a steady supply of raw materials, the pressure is on.

“Demand for recycled paper materials is outstripping supply by nearly 4 to 1 and the cost of feedstock is rising,” explained Federico Asensio, Saica’s R&D&i Group Director. “We’re just not getting enough recycled material back through the current system or it has already been recycled before, and the quality is not good enough (white testliner grade) to print information on, for example.”   

Saica had to come up with a cost-effective solution to produce higher-grade corrugated cases and testliners on which marketing as well as essential packaging information (contents, weight, ingredients, bar codes, etc.) can be printed. And they had to do this using lower-grade raw material – because of dwindling supplies – and not rely on bleaching to get that white ‘quality’ look.

100% recycled materials … covering all customer needs and specifications

New-line, white-look paper!

White liners applied in layers (bleached top-liner over raw base layer) to corrugated board are used for flexographic printing. The quality or smoothness of the testliner varies according to the grade of raw material, and this in turn affects the uniformity of the print job. Rough surfaces lead to poorer quality colour, brightness, readability and so on. And that means poor point-of-sale visibility and, ultimately, unhappy customers.

“Our new solution could not have come at a better time. After years of R&D costing around €146 million, followed by EUREKA support for pre-market testing, Saica introduced the pioneering ‘Infinite’ line of corrugated containerboard made from 100% recycled fibre, covering all customer needs and specifications,” noted Asensio.

The technical advantages of the new line include a smooth, top-coated paper quality using conventional printing technology, higher brightness, whiteness and colour intensity and better print quality with lower weight.

Today, more and more products are sold in the same packaging in which they are delivered, saving on transport and packaging costs. Modern packaging therefore needs to be both durable and appealing, with colourful printed graphics and texts that are easy to read.

“Our new Infinite line ticks all these boxes; it is really a win-win-win for the customer, retailer and environment,” concluded Asensio.

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.