Greiner Packaging: Cardboard-plastic combination K3® turned 40!

01/02/2023 | 3 min read
Jens Krause

In late 1982, the packaging market was revolutionized by a true innovation: the cardboard-plastic combination. K3® has remained consistently popular ever since, and countless products are sold in this sustainable packaging today – from yogurts and spreads through ready meals and salads to laundry detergents and dishwasher tablets. Greiner Packaging is now celebrating the 40th anniversary of its groundbreaking packaging solution.

  • The cardboard-plastic combination was developed in 1982
  • Since then, numerous innovations have shaped K3®’s trajectory – most recently, self-separating K3® r100
  • Greiner Packaging launches campaign to celebrate its success story’s anniversary

Kremsmünster, Austria (January 2023). In 1982, a packaging innovation was born out of the oil crisis underway at the time. The cardboard-plastic combination was developed in the small Swiss town of Diepoldsau with a simple aim: to save plastic.

Peter Akermann, known at Greiner Packaging as “the father of K3®,” is proud of the results: “The dramatic increases in the price of oil triggered by the oil crisis of the 1970s created a very challenging situation for many sectors, including the plastics industry. With that in mind, we made it our mission to develop a packaging design that would use less plastic while protecting the product inside just as effectively. A team of Swiss colleagues worked tirelessly on the development project over many months and carried out an extensive battery of product tests. Finally, we arrived at the solution, which subsequently achieved market success under the name K3®.”

Reducing material usage has always been one of the cardboard-plastic combination’s greatest benefits – initially for financial reasons and now especially with regard to sustainability.

K3® boasts an impressive array of advantages, even after 40 years

K3® packaging consists of two components: a plastic cup and a cardboard wrap. The cardboard wrap lends sturdiness to the plastic cup so that the cup can have particularly thin walls. Using less plastic to produce a K3® cup also significantly reduces the associated CO2 emissions. 

In addition, cardboard-plastic combinations are readily recyclable – it is no hassle for consumers to detach the cardboard wrap from the plastic cup to dispose of them separately. The new, patent-protected Greiner Packaging tear-off system makes the separation process extra simple. The unprinted cup produces top-quality recycled material.

K3® can also be made with material recovered from recycling, with the option to produce both the cardboard wrap and the plastic cup from as much as 100% recycled material – up to 100% r-PET in the case of the cup.

There are plenty of reasons why cardboard-plastic combinations have been on a successful journey for decades. At Greiner Packaging, we are especially proud both to have invented this product category and to have kept on developing it. I have been working on K3® products for 20 years now and have helped to bring nine K3® innovations to market during that period alone. We take particular pride in our latest innovation, K3® r100, whose cardboard wrap automatically separates from the plastic cup during the waste disposal process.

Jens Krause, sales director at Greiner Packaging

Greiner Packaging celebrates with anniversary campaign

To commemorate 40 years of cardboard-plastic combinations, Greiner Packaging has launched a dedicated anniversary campaign, celebrating its invention of K3®. Following in the footsteps of Elvis, whom countless impersonators have tried to copy over the years, K3® is also a pioneering presence that is often imitated and yet remains the only true original.

More information about our K3® anniversary campaign can be found on our anniversary landing page!

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