Many in the flexible packaging industry are hard at work to find sustainable solutions to make an already ideal packaging format even better. Here’s a look at some of them, from compostable bags to eco-friendly resins.
If you were among the several hundred packaging professionals that attended the 2018 Global Pouch Forum last June 13-15 in Miami, then you know that one of the big show themes had to do with flexible packaging sustainability and recyclability. Several presenters discussed developments aimed at tackling plastic waste and several more offered up additional solutions. Of course, presenters were also quick to point out the existing sustainability benefits of flexible packaging, such as fighting food waste and the front-end supply chain benefits involved with the packaging format. (If you missed the Forum or just want to revisit a few of these presentations, visit the “Broadcast Live” page over at www.globalpouchforum.com.)
This story is a nice complement to the main theme of flexible packaging sustainability to come out of this year’s Global Pouch Forum. Read on to see some of the latest innovations and products that several companies and converters have released pertaining to flexible packaging sustainability.
Emsur Compostable Bags
Emsur France SPO has developed a bio-based and fully compostable single-use plastic bag. This new product is an addition to the existing product portfolio that the company is creating according to the strategic recommendations of the European Commission related to the circular economy. The material used for the single-use bag is 40 percent bioplastic. The percentage of bio-based material required in France will increase up to 50 percent in 2020 and 60 percent in 2025.
These bio-based plastics, or bioplastics, are plant-based materials used to replace the traditional plastics derived from petroleum. They are composed of polymers from renewable resources, partially or totally, such as corn, cellulose, plant oils, animal fats and oils, among others.
Bemis’ Encore Recyclable Film
Bemis Company, Inc. has launched Encore ultra-clear recyclable film, a technology that combines readily recyclable material with shelf-appealing transparency, designed to help CPGs attract today’s consumers while achieving the sustainability goals of their businesses.
“CPGs can feel confident with Encore ultra-clear recyclable film — it can provide the clarity and transparency shoppers demand, and still run on most standard existing manufacturing equipment,” explains John Wilson, market manager.
Compared to prior offerings, this new Bemis technology provides the advantages of a standard standup pouch, with the added benefit of improved recyclability. It can also incorporate convenience features, such as press-to-close zippers.
Encore ultra-clear recyclable film is made of polyethylene, and is designed to be recycled through existing How2Recycle store drop-offs. This technology offers benefits of low haze, good stiffness and high gloss. The film is currently available across multiple markets, including dish detergent pods, pet food and treats, confection items and more.
BioLogiQ’s New Biopolymers
BioLogiQ has recently launched three new grades of its plant-based NuPlastiQ biopolymer resin family. These new grades include NuPlastiQ XP High Performance BioPolymers for packaging applications; NuPlastiQ XD High Durability BioPolymers for durable goods applications; and NuPlastiQ BC Biodegradable/Compostable BioPolymers for foodservice and other packaging applications.
Using a proprietary process, BioLogiQ produces NuPlastiQ GP BioPolymers (GP) from natural, renewable resources — plants. GP resins contain 100% USDA Certified Biobased Content, and are ASTM D6400 and EN 13432 certified for compostability. When combined with traditional plastics to produce the new XP, XD, and BC grades, the resulting resins are stronger and more durable; reduce fossil fuel-based plastic usage and greenhouse gas generation; and maintain the recyclability, compostability, or biodegradability of that traditional polymer.
“We make polymers from plants by turning polysaccharides, or plant starch, into plastic,” says Brad LaPray, president of BioLogiQ. “This polymer actually forms an alloy with its partner polymers to produce new compounds that are stronger than the partner plastic would be by itself. It’s like combining copper and zinc to make brass, an alloy that’s more durable than either of its ingredients are by themselves.”
Henkel Ups the Ante on Recycled Materials
In 2017, Henkel says that more than 1.2 billion products it had a hand in making contained recycled material, an initiative that the company will continue to build on moving forward.
“We follow three principles for sustainable packaging,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, head of global research and development in Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care business unit. “First, we want to reduce the amount of packaging we use. Second, we’re adapting our packaging to contain more recycled material and make it easier to recycle. This will build momentum toward the ‘circular economy’ — where materials are gathered after use and can be reintegrated into new production processes over and over again.”
Last March, Henkel announced a new partnership with Waste Free Oceans to remove plastic waste from oceans and rivers. This collaboration builds on Henkel’s existing activities related to sustainable packaging and recycling, such as its partnership with the social enterprise Plastic Bank, which aims to stop ocean plastic and provide opportunities for people in poverty.
Product packaging fulfills important functions such as ensuring hygiene and providing space for information about safe and sustainable product use. However, one challenge is that recycled plastic is not available in sufficient quantity and quality. It can, for example, carry undesirable odors that affect the product. Henkel’s experts are engaged in several cross-industry initiatives to drive progress toward solutions for these challenges. One example is the New Plastics Economy, a three-year initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that brings key stakeholders together to redesign the future of plastics. Henkel is also participating in CEFLEX, a consortium of around 50 European companies and organizations aiming to make flexible packaging easier to recycle.
“Progress toward sustainability in packaging will only be possible if organizations from all stages in the packaging value chain work together,” says Müller-Kirschbaum. “By sharing our knowledge, we can develop innovative technologies and identify improvements to infrastructure that make packaging easier to recycle around the world.”
Sugarcane Plastic Mailing Bags
Duo UK has produced GreenPE mailing bags, which are comprised of thermoplastic sustainable resins made from sugarcane. What’s unique about GreenPE is that its environmental credentials extend all the way down the production chain. For instance, sugarcane is a water-efficient crop that also captures carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
It is planted and grown in accordance to strict ethical guidelines. Further CO2 is sequestered from the atmosphere by the ethanol used to make GreenPE. Duo UK says each kilogram of green plastic produced saves 2.78kg of CO2, when compared to the production of conventional oil-based polythene. SportPursuit, a London-based e-commerce company, began using the GreenPE mailing bags in April.