As part of its sustainability strategy, chemical and consumer goods company Henkel is working to improve the recyclability of its product packaging and to increase its use of recycled materials.
Düsseldorf/Germany — A joint development project between Henkel, packaging manufacturer Mondi, plastics manufacturer Borealis and the recycling technology company APK aims to significantly improve the sustainability of plastic multi-layer flexible packaging.
APK AG, based in Merseburg near Leipzig, Germany, has developed a solvent-based process, called Newcycling, that enables the recovery of high-quality clean-grade materials from complex multi-layer packaging. The pelletised recycle provides properties similar to those of comparable virgin plastics. According to Klaus Wohnig, Managing Director of APK, conventional mechanical recycling processes are not able to achieve this. Additionally. the Newcycling process is very economical, delivering recycle grades that can be offered at competitive prices, he added.
Mondi has tested the suitability of recycled LDPE from APK for multilayer films at its research and development centre in Gronau, Germany, and has carried out successful preliminary tests in a pilot plant on site. In this project, the LDPE virgin material previously used in flexible detergent packaging was largely replaced by APK LDPE recycle. Mondi uses the reclaimed material in the coextrusion and lamination of PE film with printed PET film to form a composite duplex structure, while maintaining the external appearance of the detergent bag.
The joint project meets the European Commission's strategy, adopted in January 2018, which calls for all plastic packaging in Europe to be recyclable by 2030. It also underscores the feasibility of reusing flexible packaging waste in multiple cycles of a truly circular economy that preserves valuable resources and avoids waste without restricting product performance.
The commercialisation of the project and its intended market launch in early 2019 are currently being examined by the project partners.