Paper, the future of Electronics?

Open discussion with Arjowiggins

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Paper, the future of Electronics?

Open discussion with Arjowiggins

Is Paper the Future of Electronics? The comprehensive use case of Arjowiggins

With Gäel DEPRES, Central R&D Manager at Arjowiggins

June 15th, 2022

Circular is defined by the European Commission as making the most from any resource, whether it is materials, energy, water, space and more to reduce our impact on the environment. But one of the main questions is what kind of businesses can generate value from the optimization of the use of resources.


This Catch&DO Impact session will be dedicated to analyzing how 3 specific drivers (1) paper circularity, (2) e-waste challenge and (3) the need to open new usage for the paper industry could lead to some highly disruptive innovations? In that perspective the specific case of Arjowiggins is ideal to provide some strong returns of experience potentially applicable in many other industries.

Let’s get inspired…


How can a circular approach drive innovation in the industry?

Open discussion

What are the current challenges in the pulp and paper (P&P) industry?

The overall pulp and paper market is increasing. Some application fields are decreasing over time, such as newspapers or catalogs. Other applications are driving the growth of this pulp and paper market. Packaging markets are increasing fast, due to the growth of the e-commerce activities. Sanitary products, such as tissues also enable the growth of the P&P market. 


One of the drivers of growth are the need for alternative solutions to plastics. Nowadays, lots of effort are dedicated to develop paper providing the properties of plastics : vapour barrier, O2 barrier, moisture barrier in the food industry for instance but not only.   

What could be the contribution of Arjowiggins to a better environment?

The main advantage about paper is that up to 80% of its production can be recycled many times.  

Translucent paper, to replace plastics in some applications, have been developed. It is still recyclable. One typical example is the US case of catalog wrapping: plastic is forbidden in this case and Arjowiggins provided an equivalent paper alternative, that is currently used.  


The second advantage of paper is that it comes from renewable resources: wood, and it does not require the use of fossil resources. Moreover, all Arjowiggins papers are made from FSI certified pulp, the wood sourcing is controlled to ensure an respectful management of the forest regarding environmental concerns. 


One of the best examples is Sylvicta, a translucent paper packaging product that can be used as food packaging for its good O2, vapour, water and grease barriers.   

What is the next big thing in the P&P industry?

The integration of smart function by the mean of printed electronics offer great disruption opportunities.  

In a short term, sensors integration is the low hanging fruit given the wide range of opportunity it presents. The idea is not to replace current electronic devices such as smartphone but to bring intelligence and value in the existing paper products. This is why we can now imagine intelligent labels or intelligent packaging delivering information about the products. Current use cases are tracking humidity, temperature or shocks during shipment by the mean of printed sensors, this is something a lot of people is asking these days. Paper/packaging can also be used to prevent counterfeiting through a printed display.  


Arjowiggins has launched several actions towards smart function addition, in the field of packaging, batteries, electromagnetic shielding and even smart textiles.  

Sustainability in innovation

Printed electronics on paper and sustainability are not incompatible. Arjowiggins have implemented recycling in smart paper projects. When electronics are printed on paper, it is easy to separate electronics and paper, and further eliminate inks. When the volume of inks that is used will be higher, it will even be possible to recycle them. The battery is more difficult to recycle and it will be the main challenge in sustainability.


The addition of smart function is really linked to logistics (traceability, anticounterfeiting, damage tracking…), which are a huge topic also when it come to circularity. 

What are the new business open thanks to these technologies?

The addition of smart function (traceability, shock, humidity) allows Arjowiggins to address new challenges that enable to open businesses. The work on printed electronics on paper also allows them to open new collaboration opportunities, on the hardware part, on the software part as well as regarding commercial relationship, i.e. companies integrating Arjowiggins developed technologies.  

How to collaborate with Arjowiggins?

Arjowiggins collaborates with all types of organization from start-ups to large organization including research institutes. They actually collaborate a lot with researchers, given their location in Grenoble where the research activities in paper and electronics are numerous.  


Arjowiggins usually look for partners for software and hardware development as well as for sales partnerships.  

Gaël Depres

Central R&D Manager
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Dr. Gael Depres received his MS Degree in Pulp and Paper in 1996 from INP PAGORA and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from INPG in France. 


He entered the group Arjowiggins in 1999 as a research Engineer and then as Innovation manager and worked mainly on new products developments in the area of specialty papers, Fine Papers and smart papers. He is now Central R&D manager for Arjowiggins, working o many topics including plastics replacement, printing electronics, connected papers, recyclability and circular economy. 


Gael Depres wrote several articles and participate in many conferences in the area of intelligent paper and holds more than 18 patents in the field of specialty papers, especially on printing electronics on paper

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