Insulated Packaging – A New Market Sector

Mar 2019

Insulated Packaging – A New Market Sector

At the beginning of 2017, John Cotton took the opportunity to expand its expertise into a new market area, where our traditional highloft nonwoven products found a natural fit. Having over 20 years’ experience producing loft insulation for housing, and technical expertise in fibres for thermal performance, the Nonwovens Division launched itself into the ‘insulated packaging’ market.

The insulated packaging market traditionally uses polystyrene foam, or foil lined bubble wrap, both of which have limited recycling routes at the end of life. With the increasing concern over plastic waste ending up in landfill and our oceans, companies and the consumer are becoming more environmentally concerned about the disposal of packaging.

The John Cotton Nonwovens Division has always had the environment at the forefront of its business philosophy. Founded on the recovery and upcycling of textile waste over 100 years ago, we are experts in this field and have been producing natural and recycled synthetic materials for various industry sectors, including loft insulation, for decades.

With a growing trend in subscription box services, the majority of which require insulated packaging, John Cotton Nonwovens Division saw a gap in the market where our products could provide the performance and protection needed, plus the ability to manufacture the whole product in one offering “outbidding the competition on price”.


To help with the increasing demand of customers approaching John Cotton for insulated packaging products and to aid with the growing volume from our well-established customers HelloFresh and Mindful Chef, John Cotton Nonwovens Division made an investment of £90K in an automated packaging line to improve efficiency and increase productivity.

Our new ‘Performance Packaging’ facility

In order for John Cotton Nonwovens to grow and establish ourselves in this market, we set up our ‘Performance Packaging’ Facility located just 20 minutes from our HQ in Mirfield. Our new ‘John Cotton Performance Packaging’ logo has recently been designed to establish our brand presence in this sector.

The 1000 square metre site has given us the opportunity to house our new automated packaging line and provides enough space should we need to invest in more equipment as we continue to grow in this new sector.

Our Insulated Packaging Products

At John Cotton Nonwovens, we have the capability to process a wide range of fibres including both synthetic and natural varieties, some of which originate from recycled sources. Our manufacturing facilities allow us to produce highloft nonwoven waddings which offer superior insulating properties.


rPET –

Our rPET insulation is made from polyester (PET) plastic waste, including articles such as plastic water bottles. John Cotton Nonwovens Division recycle the equivalent of ‘10 million PET water bottles a week’ by converting them back into fibre that is suitable for our recycled polyester (rPET) insulated packaging.

Cool Blue™ denim –

This product is made from the offcuts and waste produced during denim manufacturing. Every year we recycle just over 160 tonnes of denim offcuts by upcycling this pre-consumer waste into our Cool Blue™ insulated packaging.


Wool –

Our wool insulation is made from 100% natural wool fibre. No binder fibre is used in this product and therefore the wool insulation will decompose naturally in both home and industrial composting facilities.

Re-use of our Insulated Packaging

Re-use and recycling are part of the John Cotton DNA. For over 100 years John Cotton have been reclaiming garments and textile waste and manufacturing these into new products.

When feasible we can take back our customers insulated packaging and reprocess this into an alternative product. One of our main customers is already adopting this process and showing their commitment to extending the product life cycle. 

Our Customers

‘Hello Fresh’ Europe’s largest online meal kit delivery service, was our first customer who gave us the chance to grow and establish ourselves in this new market sector. Together with HelloFresh we have grown our relationship and worked alongside one another to produce the rPET insulation. HelloFresh were the first company to utilise this material for insulated packaging and have marketed the recycled element to their customers very clearly on their packaging. ‘My cook box’, a value alternative to Hello Fresh and ‘Ready Steady Glow’ a new meal kit recipe box service in the UK, has also chosen to use the rPET insulation.

Our other well-established customer in the market, ‘Mindful Chef’, who pride themselves on donating a meal to charity for every meal they sell, use our Cool Blue™ denim insulation, alongside growing companies in this sector such as Feastbox and Red Rickshaw who produce Indian cuisine meal kits and sell Indian groceries online.

Wool insulation is also an option for those who want a natural biodegradable or home composting solution. ‘The Live Kefir Company’, who are based locally to John Cotton in Pontefract has adopted the woollen biodegradable option for their insulated packaging.


Performance and Safety

All our insulated packaging materials are tested in-situ and using a guarded hot plate to obtain an R-Value (thermal resistance of a material). Our onsite laboratory allows us to test our products inside a climate-controlled room that mimics the external ambient temperature. Our results show that our insulating material can maintain important temperatures below 8°C for up to 48 hours.

At John Cotton we consider the safety of the product as paramount, that is why our insulated packaging is tested for fibre cleanliness using BS 1425: Part 1: 1991, in our in-house UKAS accredited laboratory. The insulation is also tested by Smithers Pira, the World recognised authority for packaging, print and paper chain supply to certify it is compliant with BS EN 1186-3:2002 (suitability of materials in contact with food stuffs).

Looking Forward

John Cotton were fortunate enough to be Finalists at the UK packaging awards in 2018 for ‘Investment Project of the Year’. Considering our presence in this sector was only that of a year when we entered this award, we feel it was a great achievement to be ‘Finalists’ and will continue to enter this and other awards in ‘packaging’ in the future.

With the growth in subscription box services set to rise to a £1 billion market by 2022 (according to Royal Mail), John Cotton Nonwovens are excited about the prospect this new market may bring to the business.

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