Introducing HERMAnature fieno (340), HERMA offers a label material based on grass paper for the first time.

Compared to paper made from fresh fibre or even recycled cellulose, grass paper is very resource-friendly and has a small CO2 footprint.
Allergen-free and featuring a low-migration adhesive, the grass paper is ideally suited for food and cosmetics labels. Grass – or rather sun-dried hay, to be specific – is a major component of what may well be the world‘s most eco-friendly paper. Processing these fibres for paper production is very resource-friendly and generates very little CO2, compared with paper produced from fresh fibre or even recycled cellulose. Since 2017, grass papers have been widely used for various kinds of food packaging – and have received a lot of attention from companies committed to sustainable packaging.

Made from grass paper, the new label material HERMAnature fieno (grade 340) allows users to also apply special sustainability requirements to labels. The production of such grass papers is based on special grass pellets developed and patented by a German company from the Rhineland. In this process, grass fibres are processed mechanically, requiring no chemicals. Compared to wood pulp processing, this results in energy savings of 97 percent and water savings of 99 percent. As the grass originates from domestic compensation areas, logistics expenses are also minimized, resulting in CO2 savings of up to 75 percent. In the end product grass paper, CO2 savings amount to a considerable sum of 20 to 25 percent.

Excellent printability

The new label material HERMAnature fieno contains 30% of this very sustainable resource. In principle, it can be processed like conventional paper and offers very good printability in offset and flexo printing. “As it is a natural product, its colour can vary”, says Dr. Ulli Nägele, Head of Research and Development at HERMA. “But combined with the material’s somewhat rougher surface, this immediately and credibly signals to the consumer that this is sustainable packaging material.” An additional advantage: the grass paper contains no allergens that are subject to EU labeling requirements listed in the regulation (EU) 1169/2011, such as fish or nut products.

Therefore, grass paper labels are ideally suited for use with food and cosmetics. In order to maintain this advantage, HERMAnature fieno is equipped with the 62A adhesive which is suitable for direct contact with dry and moist foodstuffs as well as fatty foodstuffs with a correction factor of 3 or more according to the regulation (EU) 10/2011. Apart from that, the 62A adhesive is a permanent adhesive for universal use with very good adhesive properties on a wide range of surfaces. Its final adhesion is very high, both on polar and non-polar surfaces (such as PE). It provides excellent water resistance and especially good resistance against light, heat, and ageing.

Proven sustainability

By now, the environmental benefit of grass paper has been backed by science: „Within the framework of this comparative life cycle assessment, grass-based cellulose performs considerably better than the alternatives wood-based sulphate cellulose and recycled fibre – in terms of energy and water consumption, acidification potential, and emissions balance“, say the authors of a 2017 life cycle assessment created by the International Centre for Sustainable Development in Sankt Augustin, Germany. “In particular, the low fuel and energy consumption during production resulting from short transport distances is decisive for the environmental benefit of grass paper.” The grass can, for instance, be grown on ecological compensation areas relatively close to the paper mills – thereby, it does not compete against food cultivation.

Grass paper production is very resource-friendly and generates very little CO2. The new label material HERMAnature fieno is made from 30 percent sun-dried hay.

Written by Philip Yorke