Physical barrier

Sweden’s relatively relaxed approach to Covid-19 has made the headlines across the world. Relying more on voluntary social distancing than enforced lockdowns, the ultimate prudence of the strategy remains to be seen, but most Swedes, particularly those belonging to a risk group, willingly adhere to recommendations from public health authorities to keep their distance when standing in line.

When packing groceries at the cashier’s desk, however, it may be difficult to keep the recommended distance of 2 meters, and having someone who suddenly coughs or sneezes next to you when packing your food is the last thing you want.

One solution to alleviate worries and reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus are the so-called sneeze guards that provide a physical barrier between shoppers who pack their groceries. Among the first to develop such a solution in Sweden were Green Lite, which normally manufactures in-store displays for brand owners, retailers and fairs. Much of its output is exported, but when the demand dropped in the wake of lockdowns across Europe, the company was swift to apply its know-how to new applications, says Martin Carlshamre, CEO:

“The inspiration for our sneeze guards came from a client in Denmark. In cooperation with DS Smith, a leading supplier of in-store sales promotion material, we have developed, produced and shipped over 3,000 sneeze guards to grocery retailers all over Sweden.”

Green Lite’s sneeze guards are 16 mm thick and manufactured from fibre-based board from Swedboard, a supplier of lightweight, environmentally adapted board to the global graphics industry. The surface consists of specially developed liner from Iggesund Paperboard, which lets the retailer print useful information on the spread of Covid-19 or other messages.

Delivered as flatpack

The cooperation with DS Smith lets Green Lite reach potential retail customers in an effective way, while the use of liner from Iggesund allows for cost-efficient distribution since the sneeze guards may be delivered as flatpack.

Carlshamre explains how: “Since the board from Iggesund doesn’t crack when folded, we can deliver our shields in a flat pack. In addition, their board offers an integrated moisture barrier that prevents moist from entering and destabilizing the shields from within. Cashier’s desks, particularly in smaller stores, are often located near the exit, which contributes to sudden variations in temperature and moisture conditions,” he says and adds: “Unfolding and placing the sneeze guards takes less than a minute and they stay put thanks to a special stand that we developed.”

The need will remain

Traditional corrugated board is less stable than Swedboard’s fibre-based board, which is made a from a sandwich material with a core of corrugated board with vertical flutes. And Carlshamre predicts that the need for Covid-19 protection measures will remain for quite some time:

“I believe it will take a while before health authorities announce that the pandemic is over, which makes durability of the sneeze guards an important feature. At a later stage, however, stores may want to print a different message on the shields.”

Once they are finally scrapped, Green Lite’s sneeze guards may be recycled as corrugated board.

Safer shopping

Bengt Johansson is a Key Account Manager at Iggesund Paperboard and proud to contribute to a safer shopping experience: “We are happy and grateful to be a part of this solution by delivering paperboard to Swedboard, which offers so many creative applications that really make the most of our products. Green Lite, on the other hand, brings a tremendous ability to develop new display solutions based on environmentally smart, lightweight materials.”

The paperboard from Iggesund used in these sneeze guards does not crack when folded and it is dust free. Johansson explains why: “That’s one of the prominent characteristics of our material and a result of our using domestically grown softwood, in combination with our production techniques.”