Two new flexible bags combine virgin polyethylene with larger quantities of post-consumer recyclates
Cooperation along the value chain promotes the plastics recycling industry
Borealis and Borouge, leading suppliers of innovative value-added plastic solutions, and Henkel, a global leader in adhesives and owner of leading laundry, cleaning and cosmetics brands in numerous markets, announce the development of two new flexible packaging solutions containing both pure polyethylene (PE) and high levels of post-consumer recyclates (PCR). One of the bags - developed through collaboration along the value chain and consisting of 30% PCR produced by Ecoplast - will be presented at K 2019 in October.
Greater focus on the cycle of packaging while maintaining the same aesthetics
Flexible bags are one of the fastest growing segments of the packaging industry. Like other flexible packaging types, such as sacks, packages, films, wrappings or wrappers, pouches ensure the integrity, quality and longevity of the packaging content while providing added value through functionality and convenience. Stand-up pouches also have the advantage that brand labels and product information with a special shelf effect can be optimally placed on them.
Despite the numerous benefits for consumers and brand owners, flexible packaging solutions will have to exceed their current functionality in the future. Recyclability must be "built into" the packaging itself. This is necessary to reduce the overall environmental impact, generate less waste and ensure that the valuable resources needed to produce such packaging are kept as long as possible in the use cycle.
In many parts of the world, regulatory measures to increase recycling rates have already had and will continue to have an impact. Both brand owners and packaging manufacturers are committed to increasing the PCR content of their applications, but need workable solutions that also appeal to end users. The challenge for the industry is to redesign flexible packaging solutions and novel packaging materials for the most common applications - especially bags and packs - to significantly reduce plastic waste after use.
Value chain collaboration enables new flexible bags with up to 35% recyclate content
Cooperation along the value chain drives the plastics recycling industry forward. In addition to other sustainability-related efforts, brand owners and packaging manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce the CO2 footprint of packaging. The collaboration between Borealis, Borouge, Henkel and other partners in the value chain has now produced two novel bags with outstanding market potential. Both bags contain virgin PE as well as larger quantities of high quality recyclate produced by Ecoplast.
The new flexible bags are a response to strong market demand - particularly in the fast moving consumer goods sector - for more and more consumer applications containing higher levels of PCR. Increasing the proportion of recycled material in packaging is an essential part of efforts to further improve the recycling orientation of plastics. As part of its extensive activities in connection with recycling management, Henkel has introduced a special range of adhesives that have been optimized for this purpose.
The Full PE + 30 % PCR from Ecoplast
The first new bag was developed in close cooperation between Borealis, Borouge and Henkel's Laundry & Home Care business unit, using adhesive solutions from Henkel Adhesive Technologies. The bag is based on the Full PE laminate solution already introduced to the market several years ago by Borealis and Borouge, and also uses a new material combination: virgin PE with 30% PCR-PE recyclate, manufactured by Ecoplast, which has an unusually high PCR value for a flexible consumer packaging application. The bag also contains the innovative adhesive of the new RE range from Henkel Adhesive Technologies, which has been specially developed for recycling purposes ("Designed for Recycling") and enables mechanical recycling of homogeneous laminates with excellent results.
Among other things, Henkel plans to use the new bag in selected regions for its leading detergent brand Persil. This proves that packaging with a high recycled content that is laminated with an adhesive compatible with mechanical recycling can meet the highest customer requirements in terms of appearance, feel, functionality and convenience. In addition, they offer the added benefit of giving consumers the reassuring feeling that by purchasing such a packaging format, they are contributing to environmental protection.
The Full PE + 35 % PCR from Ecoplast
A second newly developed bag has an even higher recyclate content. This full PE laminate stand-up bottom bag is made of both virgin material and recycled materials: BorShape™, Anteo™, and Queo™ as well as 35% low density PCR polyethylene (r-LDPE) manufactured by Ecoplast.
The use of this novel material offers producers attractive opportunities to save material. In addition, the raw material requirement in production is reduced, especially for primary raw materials, as the proportion of recycled material in the mix is significantly higher. All in all, this packaging bag offers a lower total CO2 footprint. In addition, the use of Henkel's special RE plastic range in the production process enables excellent recyclate quality when recycling this product as well as reuse and/or additional recycling cycles.
This second bag prototype is currently being further developed and tested by a consortium of value chain partners, with each partner contributing their respective expertise and experience to ensure joint success:
Borealis and Borouge: The combination of the company's proprietary Borstar® Bimodal PE technology and Borealis resins provides the basis for PE films with outstanding performance, efficiency and aesthetics. Anteo™ contributes significantly to higher performance and more sustainable multi-layer applications. The Queo™ plastomer brand delivers a number of unique performance attributes, including superior tightness, flexibility, compatibility and processability.
Ecoplast was acquired by Borealis in 2018. As the leading Austrian plastics recycler, the company produces high-quality LDPE and recyclate from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Every year, Ecoplast recycles around 35,000 tons of household and industrial plastic waste.
Henkel: Henkel's Adhesive Technologies business unit offers a unique range of groundbreaking innovations, including the RE adhesives range for mechanical recycling and recycled materials, customized solutions and strong brands in adhesives, sealants and functional coatings. Together with Henkel's Laundry & Home Care business unit, the company is delivering a strong performance in the area of circuit-oriented design for flexible packaging - especially in terms of increasing the proportion of PCR.
GEA: As experts in the development of innovative solutions for intelligent food processing, GEA developed the first Full PE laminate solution in 2016 together with Borealis and other partners in the value chain. GEA produces stand-up pouches at high packaging speeds on its vertical Form-Fill-and-Seal (VFFS) packaging line.
Hosokawa Alpine is a leading technology provider specializing in the development, design and installation of machines and systems for process engineering and blown film extrusion for customers around the world. Hosokawa Alpine uses Borealis resins on its five-layer inline directional orientation (MDO) line and patented TRIO system to produce innovative and efficient PE films that can replace conventional substrates in complex packaging structures.
HP Indigo digital presses have been designed with the environment in mind, with a clear sustainability strategy that enhances the benefits of digital printing, including reduced waste and power consumption for commercial, label and packaging applications.
"The success of this collaboration along the value chain shows that our K 2019 motto 'Building Tomorrow Together' is really the best way to make plastics more loop-oriented," says Geert Van Ballaer, Borealis Head of Marketing Consumer Products. "We see this project as a kind of "Full PE Laminate 2.0" and are happy to have partners who are motivated to work with us to take the next step.
"Thanks to our joint efforts and extensive collaboration with partners such as Borealis, we are bringing to market the first adhesive from our RE range that can be mechanically recycled and - in conjunction with polyolefin plastic films - integrated into the cycle for reuse," explains Marcin Lapaj, Global Business Development Manager for Circular Economy at Henkel Adhesive Technologies.
"As we develop new products and packaging formats, we always strive to ensure that each and every one of them makes a contribution to improving sustainability. We are excited to present this novel packaging solution at the K show and are confident that consumers will accept this important contribution to the plastics recycling industry".