Application Design Principles for Recyclable Mono Material Packaging

Application Design Principles for Recyclable Mono Material Packaging

It is widely known that, mono material packaging is for recyclable and reuse, reducing the pressure of flexible packaging on environmental pollution. As the development of sustainable demand, more and more customers asked mono-material in the market, particularly the “Circular Economy Design Guidelines” of the European Flexible Packaging Circular Economy Organization (CEFLEX) have helped more and more countries and brand companies around the world respond to the application of recyclable mono material plastic packaging. For example, Nestle announced that its packaging must be 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025, and Coca-Cola promised to realize 100% recyclable global packaging by 2025. DXC, as a customized laminated flexible packaging manufacturer, have been moving towards such “trends” and “directions” since 2016.

Definition of mono-material

At present, in the field of flexible packaging, most people agree that materials with no more than 10% of other materials are considered to be mono-material structures, and they do not necessarily have to be 100% pure. As for the current international organizations, the Consumer Goods Forum CGF (The Consumer Goods Forum, referred to as CGF) was established in Paris, France in 1953. It is the only organization in the world that connects retailers and manufacturers in the consumer goods industry and the CEFLEX organization for the circular economy of flexible packaging have also proposed circular economy design guidelines and golden design principles respectively. These two design principles have similar directions in the environmental protection practices of flexible packaging:

•  Mono-materials and all polyolefins are both in the category of recycled materials;

•  PET, Nylon, PVC and Degradable materials shall not be contained;

•  The barrier layer and coating layer shall not exceed 5% of the whole. ;

•  Recycled materials with hygienic properties that meet food requirements are within the controllable range, and such products are recognized as laminated food packaging requirements. (The GRS system certification passed by DXC in 2022 contains application requirements for the use of recycled materials. From material to pre-make pouches and bags, there are traceable.)

The mono-material structure in laminated flexible packaging filed, is currently divided into two major directions with mono PP and mono PE. From printing, laminated to bag making, there are currently major improvements. It has been applied to stand up pouches, stand up pouches with zipper, quad sealed bags, flat bottom bags and other bag types, and can all be mass-produced. This means that in the bag type scene, non-mono material products can be replaced by mono-material structures.

The most common and popular material at present is PE/PE, which not only solves the problem of not needing to be printed on the surface, but also solves the difficulty of bag forming. It is currently used in daily chemicals, food, medicine, electronic products, etc. At present, PE can be aluminized, which can solve the problems of barrier and light-shielding properties. PE coated with EVOH and PVA also solves the problem of barrier function. PP material aluminized film is relatively more mature process, and it can also be used in the field of transparent oxide high barrier. In the current market, the composite material structures that can be recycled in the market are mainly MDOPE/PE structure, BOPE/PE structure, PE/PE structure, and BOPP/CPP structure.

Of course, the mono material has been greatly improved and replaced in terms of its barrier property, puncture resistance, drop resistance, tensile resistance in the production of granules and film producers. And the current physical and chemical functionality, in accordance with the Consumer Forum CGF and the flexible packaging circular economy CEFLEX organisation in the recycling design principles, barrier materials accounted for no more than 5% of the requirements, basically can be used from the original production process to move to the mono laminated material structure to replace the non-mono structure of the application of scenarios, such as coating EVOH, coating PVA, vacuum Aluminized etc. Other traditional laminated material structures such as PET/PE (CPP), NY/PE (CPP) may not meet the requirements because recycling do not include PET and NY, but the value of the non-mono material should also be taken into account for recycled and recycling purposes.

Currently, the mono laminated material structure has made considerable progress in the front-end, terminal, and downstream customer use end. However, there is still more room for top-level design and recycling system construction away from the recycling scenario in the consumer end. What kind of a closed-loop recycling system needs to be formed, and how to realise to improve the economic value of recycling, and truly reduce the pollution of plastics to the environment, which is a very critical link.

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