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Mosca GmbH: biobased strapping tape

Mosca GmbH, a family-run company, produces strapping machines and strapping tape for the transport of goods. Sustainability is one of the company's core concerns and has been successfully applied to their products for many years. A further move towards sustainability is a biobased strapping tape made of polylactic acid (PLA), which has been available since 2016.

Mosca managing directors Timo and Simone Mosca. © Mosca GmbH

Mosca GmbH was founded by Gerd Mosca in 1966. The company is now run by Gerd’s son Timo Mosca and his wife Simone. When the company was first established fifty years ago, it produced strapping machines to mechanically wrap a tape two to four times around an item in preparation for transport. Since 1989, the company has also been manufacturing strapping tape used to secure items during transport. In addition to using strapping tape for securing parcels, strapping systems can also used for bundling loose goods such as newspapers or logs. Entire pallets can even be strapped together to secure them in place. This leads to applications in the paper industry, mail-order and logistics, the food and beverage industry, and for strapping newspapers, building materials and ceramics.

Strapping tape for transportation is an alternative to shrink film. Shrink film completely encloses and ends up firmly attached to an item. In contrast, strap tape is wrapped two to four times around the item to be transported and welded together at each end with heat or ultrasound. This protects the material during transport and is a superior method to shrink films.

In addition to the company’s 16 subsidiaries around the world, including in the USA and Singapore, the fully automated strapping tape production plant in Muckental, Germany began operating in 2008. Mosca is seeking to respond to growing demand for strapping tape. Thanks to its international success and increased demand, the group achieved total revenues of around 140 million euros in 2015.

Resource conservation and sustainability – firmly anchored in corporate philosophy

Mosca GmbH produces three different types of strapping for different purposes: PET, PP and PLA straps (from left to right). © Mosca GmbH

The tape is wrapped two to four times around the material to be packaged; only the ends are welded together. The tape can therefore be easily detached from the item and discarded once it has reached its destination. Strapping parcels this way reduces packaging waste tremendously. It goes without saying that this has a positive effect on the environment.

Mosca produces three different types of strapping, so there is something for everyone. The strapping systems were introduced in 1989 when non-toxic polypropylene (PP) became available. PP straps account for approximately two thirds of the company's total production and are particularly suitable for light goods such as newspapers and parcels.

Four years later, the company started producing its own polyester (PET) tape for securing heavy goods with strapping. PET strapping systems have very high tensile strength and low elasticity, which makes them perfect for transporting heavy goods. These characteristics enable PET strapping systems to absorb any shocks that may occur during transport.

These two types of strapping systems can be used to transport a broad range of different goods. However, Mosca GmbH wanted to further reinforce its corporate philosophy of sustainability and, in 2013, introduced a third strapping system made from polylactic acid (PLA). This strapping system has been marketed under the name Eco-Strap since early 2016. Polylactic acid is a polymer made from renewable raw materials. PLA is produced by bacteria that use starch as the main substrate. In contrast to PP and PET straps, PLA straps are 100% biobased and thus reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The straps can be effectively composted in industrial composting plants and only take 12 weeks to degrade. This is because PLA granules are melted at much lower temperatures than those required for the extrusion of PP and PET straps. This helps reduce energy requirements as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite sustainable production, which is important to many customers, the Eco-Strap system has not yet reached the market. This is because the PLA-based straps are still two to three times more expensive than PP and PET straps, which is why many customers choose one of the latter. The higher price tag of PLA straps is down to more expensive raw material and a longer production process. However, marketing and sales manager Alfred Kugler is convinced that demand for PLA straps will evolve as demand for renewable resources grows.1

Creating PET cycles

Mosca GmbH produces PET straps with a reuse cycle – the straps are produced from empty bottles and reused in a return system by crushing them after use. © Mosca GmbH

Although Mosca GmbH’s PET strapping is made using petrol as raw material, the company has nevertheless managed to bring its environmental awareness into the production process. The substrate used for producing the straps comes from so-called bottle flakes, used PET bottles that have been crushed. Further processing, including extrusion, stretching, embossing and winding leads to the final product. The utilisation cycle therefore emits 85% less CO2 than a standard primary process.

The use of the "bottle flakes" enables the recycling of about nine percent of empty bottles. Mosca thus uses a waste product from a different market sector as raw material. Mosca also does its duty in terms of existing packaging regulations. The straps sold by the company on the German market are recycled by the waste management industry. As far back as 1991, Mosca GmbH became a shareholder of KBV Kunststoffverband Verwertungsgesellschaft, an association in the city of Stadtlohn that offers a strap return service to Mosca GmbH clients.

Mosca also applies its environmentally friendly policies to its own production chain. The company has introduced its own "GET inside" (green efficiency technology inside) label for strapping machines that fulfil specific criteria, including the use of electronic rather than pneumatic motors.

Mosca has also exploited the potential of its enormous flat roof for building a production facility that not only improves the machines and strapping systems, but also make the entire production process sustainable as possible. The company installed a photovoltaic plant with a 2,500 square meters collector area that feeds electricity into the grid. This enables the company to produce a climate-neutral strapping system as the PET strap production plant needs only the energy that the factory’s photovoltaic plant produces.

Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/articles/news/mosca-gmbh-biobased-strapping-tape