Zume, a Camarillo, California-based compostable packaging manufacturer, has announced that it has signed a framework agreement with ABB Robotics, under which ABB will supply robotic cells that will enable Zume to scale up production of its sustainable packaging at its facilities around the globe.
Zume has developed and patented technology to make compostable packaging for anything from food and groceries to cosmetics and consumer goods. The packaging material is made from sustainably harvested plant material left over from agricultural production, including bamboo, wheat and straw. Plant material uses significantly less water and energy and produces lower rates of CO₂ emissions compared to the production and disposal of plastic packaging. Unlike plastic, the plant-based material is 100 percent biodegradable and simply breaks down after use.
ABB will integrate and install more than 1,000 moulded fibre manufacturing cells (MFC) - including up to 2,000 robots at Zume customer’s sites worldwide over the next five years. Financial details were not disclosed.
“The flexibility and scalability of ABB’s robots enables an efficient automated manufacturing process. This means we can offer a viable, cost effective, compostable alternative to plastic, and help manufacturers to become more environmentally-friendly,” said Alex Garden, Chairman and CEO of Zume. The cells, each equipped with two ABB IRB 6700 robots, will mould containers from the plant material developed by Zume. Each cell will process up to two tons of agriculture material every day to create 80,000 pieces of sustainable packaging. Working with ABB, Zume expects to equip factories with up to 100 robotic cells each. With the automation, speed and scalability provided by the MFC, each site would have the potential to process 71,000 tons of agriculture material annually, potentially producing up to two billion pieces of packaging each year.
“Automating production of Zume’s sustainable packaging with ABB robots makes this a viable and economic alternative to single-use plastics,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation. “Today, robotic automation is expanding possibilities, making the world more sustainable through more efficient production that reduces energy use, emissions and production waste.”
A pilot project has been installed by Zume and ABB at Satia Industries Limited, one of India’s largest wood and agro-based paper manufacturers, creating a facility of 10 manufacturing cells that will process 20 tons of wheat straw daily creating 100 percent compostable packaging for a range of industries.
Other planned pilot installations include Parason Group, a leading global pulp and paper machinery supplier, also based in India and Jefferson Enterprise Energy, the first 100 percent renewable energy powered compostable packaging factory, based in Texas, USA.