Progress in flexible pack design

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Progress in flexible pack design

Related tags: Recycling

Significant progress has been made in new designs of flexible packaging with improved recyclability, according to resource recovery specialist Axion Consulting, which is leading a collaborative research and development project involving some global brands.

Axion is working with a number of partners on the UK’s recycling Reflex project, including: Amcor, Dow Chemical Company, Interflex Group, Nestlé UK, SITA Holdings UK, Tomra Sorting and Unilever UK Central Resources. The two-year innovative project is co-funded by the government agency Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board).

Research so far has focused on exploring and evaluating alternatives to previously difficult to recycle multi-layer films. The aim is to deliver the performance requirements and technical properties needed for products ranging from confectionery to detergent.

“We are making significant progress. For example we have taken multi-layer packaging structures that currently use incompatible polymers and we have redesigned them using polymers which can potentially be recycled together,”​ says Axion’s project engineer Richard McKinlay.

 At the Plastics Recycling Expo (PRE) in June, McKinlay gave a presentation titled: ‘How to design flexible packaging films which can be sorted for recycling,’ which outlined the latest finds from the project. These include the optimisation of near infrared (NIR) sorting technologies to detect and separate mixed polypropylene and polyethylene packaging, such as sweet wrappers, crisp packets and bread bags. This has broadened what can be sorted and separated for recycling from mixed post-consumer flexible packaging.

Capturing this mixed polyolefin packaging would divert more of it from landfill, while opening up new options for the types of recycled polymers that could subsequently be made from it.

Contact: Axion Consulting

Related topics: Packaging materials

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