Fuad is Polyco Healthline’s Pulp Product Manager. But more than that, he’s pioneering new and exciting applications for sustainable packaging.
It all started 22 years ago. Fuad was on a plane, reading an inflight magazine, when he came across an ad about green alternatives to plastic packaging. This was his eureka moment. From then on, he would apply his inventive skills to paper-based packaging – known as thermoformed pulp.
Now he’s launched thermoformed pulp, a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging. With his dedicated team of inventors, every day is different: he’s always coming up with new solutions and ideas, evolving a refined version of pulp into a material similar to plastic.
For him, the excitement lies in knowing that product development teams rarely think about packaging. Whenever they enquire about sustainable packaging, a quick solution is needed and it has to work first time. But he relishes the challenge.
So Fuad, what questions are you asked most frequently
“Are you sure pulp can do that?”
People are always surprised. They have this preconceived notion of what paper can and can’t do. And we’re happy to break those misconceptions every day. “Can it hold water?” Yes. “Can it hold alcohol?” Yes. “Will my heavy product break if I drop it on your packaging from one metre?” No.
What questions do you wish were asked more frequently?
Can pulp replace plastic? And the answer to that is yes – and soon. That’s because we’ve developed thermoformed pulp to be a material without compromise, which is the only way we’ll ever replace plastic. Our aim is to create a material with the same tolerances and barrier properties as plastic.
What do you feel is the biggest problem within sustainable packaging industry?
Because the sustainable packaging industry is still in its infancy, right now the problem is expertise and capacity. If a customer wants to use thermoformed pulp, there are only a few people in the UK and Europe to approach for solid advice and guidance. It’s also tricky to find a company who can make prototypes.
How do thermoformed pulp products and services address that problem?
By contrast, we have huge capability to help customers develop packaging solutions – or any plastic alternative product. With a quick turnaround on prototypes, we develop in the UK and then go into production to deliver anywhere in the world.
Our current focus is consumer packaging. The only challenge that holds thermoformed pulp back is dispelling performance concerns.
As smooth as plastic, thermoformed pulp can be treated to have the same tolerances and barrier properties. In fact, for certain uses it outperforms plastic packaging. Although its surface is rigid, it’s actually more delicate and offers impact protection on high-end product surfaces. And we have the empirical data to prove it doesn’t lint or dust.
What is your favourite product and why?
I think this is really exciting: We’ve made a wall-mounted and eco-friendly glove dispensing bracket for SafeDon™, Polyco Healthline’s unique glove dispenser. Made of thermoformed pulp with an antibacterial coating, you can throw it away after use, meaning there’s one less surface to clean. All you need is a tiny wall mount, covered by the bracket. It’s a great solution to keep infection-controlled environments – like hospital wards – as hygienic as possible.
What future innovation will have the greatest impact on your industry specialism? What will change?
While plastic is a great material and has its place, thermoformed fibre products have so many capabilities and are five times more recyclable. Just like the electric car is slowly gaining a market foothold, so will sustainable packaging alternatives. With thermoformed pulp, we’ve prepared a solution for that future. And we’re extending its scope every day with new surface treatments and barrier properties.
Why are you proud to sell and represent Polyco Healthline products and services?
We’re different because of our unique development capability. I’m not aware of anyone else with a facility like ours. Any company can come to us with any idea or problem, and we have the system, the dedicated staff and a lab to prototype a solution quickly.
We also have loads of experience creating thermoformed pulp for use in the world’s most demanding environment: the operating theatre. Here, the same material performs as well as metal or plastic. It can be sterilised, used and then safely macerated or incinerated, with a lower environmental impact than its plastic or metal counterparts.
How are you able to provide the greatest value to Polyco Healthline customers?
Through consultation and creating solution. We’re commercially minded, but friendly and down to earth too. With our supply chain efficiencies, we keep product costs transparent and sensible, and we’re able to deliver all round the world. That’s definitely easy to say but hard to do.