What is Kraft Paper? Discover the Unique Eco-Friendly Benefits for Durable Packaging


Sustainable packaging is booming, with no signs of slowing down.

People are aware of the environmental impact of packaging and waste. It’s becoming increasingly important to take a more eco-friendly approach. In a recent DotCom Distribution study, 57% of respondents said that green packaging is important to them.

For business owners looking to make a great impression with their custom packaging but still minimize waste, kraft paper is an excellent and versatile choice.

Kraft paper offers numerous benefits and can be a more environmentally-green option for your business.

So, what is kraft paper? How is this paper made? How can you use brown kraft paper packaging in your environmentally-conscious business? 

Let’s take a closer look. 

What is Kraft Paper?

Kraft paper, also known as kraft, is a strong paperboard material that’s composed of chemical pulp produced in the kraft process. Kraft paper is a commonly used material in ecommerce and food packaging products due to its durability, elasticity and environmentally friendly benefits.

How Kraft Paper Is Made

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Kraft paper was invented in 1879 by an individual named Carl Dahl. He chose to give his newly created paper the name “kraft” – the German word for strong. 

You may not realize it, but kraft paper packaging is already a well-known part of the printing and packaging world. From serving as a strong filler in the packages you receive, to eloquently wrapping gift boxes, it’s hard to find a package that doesn’t use this durable paper in some form or fashion when it comes to sustainable and eco-friendly packaging.

But how did it come about?

Paper involves a process that converts wood into wood pulp and from there, into paper. Wood pulp is held together by lignin, which is a type of cellular structure, and cellulose. Lignin, owing to its structure, doesn’t exactly make a good paper, but cellulose does. That means there needed to be a way to separate the lignin from the cellulose.

What Mr. Dahl discovered was that if he “cooked” the wood chips in a chemical composition made up of sodium sulfide and sodium hydroxide, those tough lignin fibers would break down and break apart from the cellulose. From there, the remnants could be screened through a mesh to remove larger pieces and then made into paper.

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Now, although this cooking process separates the lignin and the cellulose, it doesn’t remove them all entirely. This is how kraft paper remains so strong. There’s still lignin content in the paper pulp mixture, and there’s also a lot of sulfur in the mix. Both of these components together add to the strength of kraft paper.

The color of brown kraft paper comes as a natural product from the wood pulp. If kraft paper were to be bleached, that would not only increase the cost to produce it, but would also weaken it by destroying those fibers that make it as durable as it is. It is, however, possible to have bleached (white) kraft paper that is stronger than conventional paper. Bleached kraft paper is also important if you want to protect your product packaging against yellowing over time. 

So what are the benefits to using kraft paper in your product packaging? Here are just a few reasons to consider making kraft paper your packaging of choice.

Benefits of Using Kraft Paper in Custom Packaging

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Now that you better understand how kraft paper is made, the next question is, what can it really do for your business? 

Kraft Paper Adds Natural Beauty with a Timeless Appeal 

If you’re looking for a great way to position your business as a natural champion of the environment, kraft paper has a simple, appealing and primitive look that can help you achieve that goal. It stands out from mass-produced paper packaging simply because of its more rustic nature. 

Looks aside, kraft paper also doesn’t add much in terms of weight to your custom boxes, but still surrounds it with excellent durability. That means that you get the benefits of a package that can withstand rougher handling and shuffling, but won’t cost much in terms of shipping rates

You’ll also be glad to know that kraft paper is recyclable. Kraft paper degrades naturally and has no negative environmental impact. It degrades within just a few weeks, but it can also be saved and reused, helping to maintain your brand credibility as a company that’s forward-thinking and that cares about their impact on the environment. 

Kraft Paper is Extremely Durable for Custom Kraft Boxes

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The way that kraft paper is made helps to make it inherently strong. But it can be made even stronger and better by coating the resulting pressed paper with PE or polyethylene. This also helps protect the kraft paper from moisture and bacteria, although one downside is that this coating does affect the ease with which it is recycled. 

If you need even greater durability, you can use several layers of kraft paper to create even tougher kraft boxes for your packaging. 

Brown Kraft Paper is Good for the Environment

Unlike the processing that occurs with regular paper manufacturing and printing, kraft paper follows a much simpler process using fewer chemicals. In addition, these chemicals can be recovered, recycled and reused without any loss in quality. The remaining byproducts of the kraft process are tall oil and turpentine, which can be used in the manufacturing processes of other items. 

Kraft paper can also be made from different kinds of wood. Certain woods like bamboo and pine aren’t often used in the making of traditional paper. Pine is too resinous and bamboo takes a long time to be correctly processed which makes it cost prohibitive for most ordinary uses. However, both of these types of common woods make excellent use of the kraft paper process.  

In the end, brown kraft paper and the process that goes into making it is self-sustaining and for those parts that aren’t, they can be reused, making it a great option for businesses that need durability but still want to highlight their green manufacturing processes

How to Get Started with Kraft Paper Packaging

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As you consider kraft paper among the different types of packaging and printing possibilities like folding cartons and corrugated boxes, it’s understandable to have questions. Fortunately, you have a knowledgeable, experienced ally on your side who can help you navigate the printing and packaging process from start to finish.

At Refine Packaging, we know that you have many different options for how to prepare, print and package your product. We also understand that you want to keep costs low but still create an affordable, beautiful presentation for your customers.

If you’re interested in using kraft paper for your company’s custom kraft packaging boxes, talk to us first. We have the skills, expertise and equipment necessary to take your product packaging from a conceptual vision to a finished product ready to be unboxed by your customers.

Everything we do is meant to enhance the quality and perception of your product, so no matter what you’re selling or what industry you’re in, our knowledgeable packaging professionals can work with you to better understand your vision and make your packaging come to life.

Whether you want to create a natural, environmentally-friendly and attractive package or you want to showcase your forward-thinking, eco-minded mission, kraft paper is a great way to show off the simplicity, “homemade-ness” and organic qualities of your product, all in one  concise packaging design.

Who knew simple kraft paper was capable of so much? 

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Read our A-Z packaging terms and glossary to help you get up to speed with industry terminology as you create your own custom boxes.

Contact us at Refine Packaging today to learn more about this or our many other packaging options for your product.

We also have a team of talented artists on staff who can properly design your sustainable packaging in a way that accurately and fully reflects your brand, your story and your business perception so that your product stands head and shoulders above that of your competition. 

Reach out to us today for a free, no obligation quote and to learn more about our comprehensive packaging and printing design services.

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