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Helping the community and the environment: packing face masks in paper

In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, companies like Sitma Machinery SPA are stepping up to help slow the spread of the virus. Sitma is helping the local municipalities to pack face masks for its’ citizens, and using UPM FlexPack and UPM UniquePack Strong to ensure sustainability of the packages.


Northern Italy was once the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the country is slowly loosening restrictions, face masks are still required to be worn in public. With the high demand for face masks expected to continue, the municipal governments of Castelvetro and Vignola, in Modena area, approached Sitma for help, as previously the masks were packed manually.

Sitma manufactures packaging machines. Packaging products is not part of the company’s normal operations. However, because the need for face masks is so acute, Sitma decided to use its packaging line in this pro bono initiative.  The company has already packaged 12,000 face masks – and plans to pack at least 22,000 more - in UPM FlexPack™ and UPM UniquePack™ Strong papers.

“At Sitma we believe in the future of paper in packaging,” Orsola Cavina, Marketing Manager, explains. “While plastics used in the right end-uses still play an important role, we have a responsibility to find sustainable alternatives to single-use packages. The EU is already taking steps to ban single-use plastic packaging.”

Using paper to package the face masks is also a step forward towards sustainability: both UPM FlexPack and UPM UniquePack can be easily recycled. “By wrapping products in paper, we can make a small gesture to help not only Castelvetro and Vignola, but also the environment. People using the mask can just put the packaging in their regular paper recycling bin,” Denise Gibbin, Marketing and Communications Specialist, points out.

“Sitma stepped up and did what was needed to help the community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud that, through our paper, we could contribute even in a small way in this important project. It inspires us to continue developing packaging papers for innovative applications,” Markus Jalkanen, Senior Manager, Technical Sales, UPM Specialty Papers ENA says.