Beating the heat and condensation with Mondi paper

A collaboration that serves SPAR South Africa and Food Lover’s Market

Global paper and packaging supplier Mondi provides customers with packaging solutions that are both sustainable by design and commercially viable. Mondi is also committed to long-standing partnerships. Taurus Packaging in South Africa has worked together with Mondi for many decades, and since 2010 in particular buying Mondi’s Sack kraft paper for cement bags. Mondi and Taurus have together developed the reusable and wet strength paper shopping bag to meet the needs of the demanding South African shopping bag marketplace.

Developing sustainable solutions is a collaborative effort. We interviewed Johann Botha, commercial manager of leading South African sack and bag manufacturer Taurus Packaging.

What particular challenges were you facing to develop a paper shopping bag for the South African market?

Having seen the opportunity in 2017 to introduce paper shopping bags with handles in South Africa, we bought a Triumph 3G with flat handle application unit.  We contacted SPAR at that time to propose developing a paper shopping bag that would be fit for purpose. Given the high levels of humidity in the coastal region where Taurus is located, condensation of cold food products and liquids is common, which made it clear that the paper we used would need to cater to this. We contacted Anthony Higgins from Mondi who proposed we use Advantage Kraft Plus with Wet Strength to address these challenges.

Once these players came together, how did you ensure that the solution would work?

For our purposes a shopping bag has to be able to carry at least 16 kg of mixed groceries and be reusable multiple times without breaking. For comparison, the standard weight requirement in Europe is 12 kg.  We started with 100gsm Advantage Kraft Plus Wet Strength at that stage to ensure the bags would be strong enough. The bags were made and tested on our custom-built testing machine with a carrying capacity in excess of 16kg. The machine simulates walking by moving the bag through an up and down motion of 50mm stroke with 16 Kg weight in the bags.

The bags were first tested dry and then with up to 40ml of water sprayed over the bottom surface of the bags and letting them stand for 20 minutes before testing. In both instances, the bags successfully completed in excess of 1000 cycles – simulating steps while walking. As much as this seems an excessive test, we wanted to make sure the bags would be able to last the entire journey should someone need to carry bags of goods home to rural areas, where public transport can only take people part of the way.

What made switching to paper bags a challenge for the South African market?

Up until 2018, paper bags were seldom used in South Africa for groceries because they were more expensive than plastic bags, and prone to breaking due to low strength paper being used.  SPAR have been a consistent customer of Taurus for their shoppers even though there was limited acceptance in the beginning for the paper shopping bags. SPAR have been pushing paper bags and promoting them, gaining momentum in 2018, which coincided with the addition of Food Lovers Market as one of our customers. Both customers have been working towards banning use of single use plastic shopping bags in their stores, with Food Lovers banning plastic bags from their corporate stores from December 2019 and some SPAR stores in selected regions. Taurus now produces in excess of 2 million shopper bags per month in various sizes and to various customers using Advantage Kraft Plus Wet Strength.

How is customer demand changing packaging?

Environmental concerns nowadays are growing, and customers are far more aware of sustainability. The general public inspired us to find a very strong, affordable shopping bag using paper, so that we all have a workable option to use less plastic. The drive to make it more affordable has led to the down gauging of the paper substrate to 90gsm, which is now successfully being used in the market with very little effect on the strength.  In our laboratory at Taurus Packaging we are continually doing trials using many different suppliers’ paper grades, with the performance objective of making sure we offer the best possible, most affordable option to our customers. When we focus on the groceries market that caters for wet product, to date, Mondi’s Advantage Kraft Plus Wet Strength is still our substrate of choice as it ticks all the boxes. Using Mondi’s paper, we have been able to offer our customers an ultra-strong and re-usable paper bag that is capable of handling the most demanding grocery products including bottles and frozen / moist goods without breaking and in the toughest of conditions. Future plans include doing tests to further reduce the paper grammage to make bags even more lightweight, and affordable, without compromising on strength.


Sustainable solutions that are fit-for-purpose are possible when you ask the right questions. Mondi’s customer-centric EcoSolutions approach centres around three actions to optimise packaging choices:

  • Replace less sustainable products with solutions that help customers fulfil their commitments,
  • Reduce overall environmental footprint and the volume of raw material used through design, operational efficiency and raw material choices,
  • Recycle by developing fit-for-purpose packaging solutions that are designed for recycling and / or composting.

Have a sustainability commitment and you are looking for solutions to meet that goal?
Then contact us today.


Advantage Kraft range

In order to give our brown paper grades the best possible strength properties, they are made out of virgin fibre from slow-growing pine and spruce. With efficient converting in mind, our paper is the ideal choice for a wide range of applications, such as sacks for cement & building materials, food and animal feed.

Read more about Advantage Kraft