Case study

Making multi-layer transparent packaging sustainable

Manufacturing companies across the globe are seeking ways to reduce waste in their processes. This not only helps reduce costs and make their processes more efficient, but also ensures proper sustainable business practices.

The challenge

Our customer works with multi-layer plastic film for food packaging. They were looking for a way to reuse scraps from their production processes and reduce their plastic waste. This waste comes from different types of multi-layer plastics which are discarded at various points in their processes. It includes polyethene (PE) and polyamide (PA) which cannot simply be put into the melting pot and be reused without losing its transparency and thermoforming properties. In food applications, consumers demand transparent food coverings. 

Our innovative approach

Our customer had been experimenting with different processing methods and tested different standard compatibilizers without success. A compatibilizer is the additive compound needed to successfully combine different types of plastics. We needed to find a way of mixing PA and PE while retaining transparency with a sufficient percentage of recycled multi-layer film scrap that can allow the plant to achieve zero residue generation.

We were able to supply a compatibilizer which improved recycling properties of food-grade films containing ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) or polyamide (PA). The recycled material can now be added to a transparent polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP) layer in a new multilayer structure. The resulting film is suitable for use in food applications.

The outcome

From 2018 to 2021 our customer was able to increase reuse of offcuts to about 80%. Their ambition is to achieve 100% recycling by the end of 2021. By the end of the first quarter in 2021, our solution had pushed this percentage up to 95%. We have been working with this customer towards 100% recyclability for several years. With this development we hope to help other manufactures reduce their plastic waste too. It also opens new opportunities for recycling plastics and polymers which would otherwise be incinerated, be dumped in landfill, or worse, end up in the environment and oceans. 

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