Ronsberg/Merseburg, 10 August 2020 – The inclusion of recycled plastics into diverse packaging formats is a challenge for the plastics and packaging value chains, as material performance, performance of the packaging product and protection of the content need to be guaranteed. Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging Europe is strongly committed to meeting this challenge for flexible packaging and, specifically, for laminated tube applications. ‘We recently succeeded in integrating the first quantities of recycled plastics into one of our standard plastic barrier laminate for tubes’, says Thomas Stroh, R&D Manager at Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging Europe. ‘This development brings us a major step closer to contributing to the EU’s packaging recycling targets for flexible packaging formats.’
The polyethylene (PE) recyclate that facilitated this innovation is Mersalen®, produced by APK AG, Merseburg (Germany). APK’s solvent-based Newcycling® technology generates Mersalen® from complex polyethylene / polyamide multilayer film waste that is difficult for most conventional recycling processes to recycle. ‘The quality and purity of our LDPE recyclate shows properties close to virgin plastics and is suitable for a wide range of packaging applications’, says Florian Riedl, APK AG’s Director of Business Development.
The tube produced with Huhtamaki’s laminate contains 19% Mersalen® recyclates and its performance is nearly identical with the standard referenced PBL structure produced with virgin LDPE. The ambitious R&D unit at Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging Europe plans to further increase the percentage of recycled content in their products and will test recyclates based on different feedstock streams.
With regard to the different input streams for plastics, recycling post-consumer waste streams stands at the centre of the circular economy discussion. Still, significant volumes of post-industrial waste need to be taken into account when implementing a truly circular plastics economy. In addition, if the plastics and the packaging industry aspire to reaching the goals of the European Plastics Strategy by 2030, post-industrial waste must become circular. ‘ When it comes to our waste feedstock streams, APK is looking into all options. We are producing recyclates from post-industrial material, we research compounds of post-industrial and post-consumer streams and, of course, we ultimately aim to provide excellent quality from post-consumer mixed plastic waste’, says Riedl.
Currently, LDPE-recyclates based purely on post-consumer waste and suitable for food and cosmetic packaging, which requires food contact compliance, are not yet available on the European market. Huhtamaki and APK are cooperating closely to solve this challenge.