Amcor, a global leader in packaging, today announced the world's first recyclable flexible retort pouch. The technical breakthrough, which many considered impossible, follows years of dedicated research and investment.
The product, which uses Amcor's AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable solution, has the potential to be used in a variety of retort applications where products with a long shelf life require high-barrier, high-heat resistant packaging.
"The technology to solve the problem of retort recyclability simply did not exist," says Amcor's Chief Commercial Officer Peter Konieczny. "Amcor's innovation represents a breakthrough for brand owners looking to reach their sustainability ambitions. Brands will be able to stand out and meet consumers' growing demand for more sustainable products by replacing older formats with the latest in cutting-edge packaging technology."
Creating a recyclable version was considered such a difficult challenge because it added another requirement to packaging already satisfying very high functional needs: withstanding heat-sterilization, blocking oxygen and bacteria, keeping food safe without refrigeration and ensuring a long shelf life. Flexible retort packaging, a modern alternative to metal cans, can improve the carbon footprint of hundreds of consumer products thanks to its light weight, resource efficiency, ease of transportation and minimization of food waste.
The new pouch has been independently tested by cyclos-HTP and confirmed to be recyclable. Today, it fits collection systems in Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands, and the list of countries is expected to grow, with projects underway in more nations to expand their plastics recycling streams.
The breakthrough innovation underscores the company's unique capabilities and long-term commitment to more sustainable packaging solutions. The company is on the path to fulfilling its pledge to develop all of its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025.
“This is exciting for Amcor and our customers. It’s an outstanding step forward as we work toward our commitment to make all of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025,” said Amcor Flexibles North America Sales and Marketing Vice President Laurel Spencer.
“Prequalification saves time, cost, and reduces risk for brand-owners and retailers by eliminating the need to engage external labs for recycle-ready testing in the development phase. In short, it allows our customers to take their packaging straight from package development to How2Recycle to request usage of the How2Recycle store drop-off label,” said Spencer.
Recently launched by How2Recycle, prequalification letters simplify How2Recycle’s label request process by confirming brands or retailers have opted for a film structure that already has been assigned a particular How2Recycle label and recyclability designation.
Currently available in a broad range of formats, Amcor’s AmPrima recycle ready solutions offer customers a more sustainable choice for their flexible packaging needs with no compromise on performance. Additionally, AmPrima PE Plus heat resistant options deliver high levels of clarity, stiffness, and heat and abuse resistance; qualities that are unavailable in any other recycle-ready films on the market today.
Amcor Research and Development Senior Fellow Otacilio Berbert notes that mixed-material films perform very well as packaging and on production lines; but, are unable to be recycled. “It’s why the innovation behind AmPrima PE Plus is so exciting; it’s the solution to a problem that has challenged the industry. At Amcor, we’ve invested years researching how to replace layers that aren’t compatible with the PE film recycling stream and still are able to deliver speed and performance previously reserved for mixed-materials packaging. AmPrima PE Plus really does deliver a more sustainable option without compromise.”
How2Recycle’s prequalification is an exciting addition to the Association of Plastic Recyclers recent acknowledgement that AmPrima PE Plus heat resistant film meets the requirements for responsible innovation for moulded parts and films over three mils in thickness.
Through the selective application of design elements in O-I: Expressions relief, a tactile effect was added to the Bacardi bat motif and the brand name along with selected leaves and flowers. An Augmented Reality (AR) experience and a Snapchat Lens can be unlocked via the Snapcode on the bottle. Simone Kockelmann, Customer Marketing Manager Bacardi Europe, said: “Consumers are looking for personalised brand experiences. “The digitally printed bottle, together with our AR experience and the Snapchat lens, transport the user to the homeland of Bacardi, the shores of the Caribbean. “We previously used sleeves for our limited edition bottles, but O-I: Expressions gives a much improved look and feel to the packaging and is a more sustainable alternative.” Replacing the sleeve with direct-to-bottle digital printing, using organic inks, improves the environmental footprint of the product and reduces its use of plastic. The limited edition was launched on July 1 in Austria, Italy and Denmark. A second launch for Germany, Ireland, Croatia, Romania and Slovakia will follow in autumn to capitalise on the pre-Christmas sales period.
While mono-material film structures are a modern solution for packaging applications that require both high performance and environmental attributes, the production of full polyolefin (PO) films poses challenges for plastics processors. Plastics processors have to adapt and expand their manufacturing equipment and meet all the requirements of the food industry.
To provide a sustainable solution, Kuhne Anlagenbau GmbH has developed Triple Bubble technology, which enables the economical production of uniformly oriented, high-quality mono-material films that are directly sealable.
“We have been building Triple Bubble blown-film lines for over 20 years and, thus, have an enormous wealth of experience both in terms of machine technology and formulation development,” said Jürgen Schiffmann, Managing Director of Kuhne Anlagenbau. “We have transferred this know-how to five-layer full-polyolefin film structures, an alternative that has many advantages over conventional blown-film lines with machine direction orientation (MDO) stretching units.”
Kuhne Anlagenbau tested and optimized the five-layer structures at its in-house technical center on a 13-layer Triple-Bubble R&D line. The result is a uniformly oriented film with a full PE or PP barrier film structure. The primary advantages of these film structures are their sealability and the waste-free production process, said Kuhne.
There are few packaging solutions today that don’t involve a barrier function, especially when it comes to food products or pet food. “The term mono-material is somewhat misleading,” explains Schiffmann, “because all commercially available full-PO films contain up to 5% of foreign material in order to achieve the desired barrier properties.”
In Kuhne’s construction, the sealing layer consists of materials such as metallocene PE or plastomers, and the inner EVOH barrier layer is enclosed by two PE-based tie layers. An HDPE blend is used for the outer layer. “With the same line configuration, we can also produce a mono PP film without any modification,” emphasized Schiffmann.
The technology is just as flexible in terms of the film thickness, which can vary between 15 and 150 microns, and its properties. Shrinkage is also adjustable, depending on whether the film is to be used for stand-up pouches, coffee, and snack packaging, which require non-shrinkable films, or for lid films, which require slightly shrinkable films. Bottom web film for food packaging can also be designed to be thermoformable and even deep-drawable and shrinkable for form-shrink applications.
Since the films are produced using Triple Bubble technology, they have the same properties and thickness over the entire circumference. In the first bubble, the film tube is rapidly doused with water in order to achieve ideal amorphous properties; in the second bubble, simultaneous biaxial orientation is imparted; and annealing takes place in the third bubble.
Kuhne Anlagenbau's technology also eliminates the need to laminate a multi-direction olefin film with a sealing layer. “Our films are directly sealable and can be processed further,” said Schiffmann, adding another economic and environmental argument for the production of mono-material film structures with Triple Bubble technology.
The solution is based on a mono web TF-BOPE film structure which has a thickness of only 20 micrometers – an unprecedented benefit in this market. This thin gauge provides a potential packaging material reduction of approximately 35-50% compared to incumbent blown PE film. The reduced thickness of the packaging solution minimizes environmental impact and supports brand owners and retailers who are aiming to reduce their packaging material consumption. The new packaging solution is also 100% recyclable and fits mono-PE recycling streams.
This innovative packaging solution for frozen food is the result of SABIC’s close collaboration with film suppliers/extruders Ticinoplast and Plastchim-T, as well as packaging machine manufacturer Syntegon Technology.
Stephan Eltink, SABIC’s Business Director for PE in Europe, said, “At SABIC, we focus on delivering sustainable solutions and working collaboratively with our customers to help them achieve their ambitions and solve key industry challenges. By working closely with Ticinoplast, Plastchim-T and Syntegon, and by leveraging our innovation together, we have been able to introduce a new solution to the market that allows for more sustainable packaging without any compromise on productivity and consumer convenience.”
Pierre Hamelink, Syntegon’s Director of Business, Market and Sustainability Strategy, said: “This innovative packaging solution demonstrates the true value of collaboration. Stakeholders throughout the supply chain have had to work together to bring this to life: sustainability cannot be achieved single-handedly.” He added: “Our research and development efforts are driven by our mission to deliver sustainability – without compromise. Our new PHS 2.0 sealing technology can process thinner films whilst offering the same level of sealing quality, product protection and processing speed as conventional sealing technologies. When replacing composite packaging materials on new and existing Syntegon machines with films made of SABIC’s BOPE, brand owners benefit from even more material and cost savings.”
TF-BOPE film made of SABIC® LLDPE BX202 material offers tear direction and low tear strength provides an easy unidirectional opening. Compared to conventional solutions, it offers much better visibility of packaged products due to higher light transmission and lower haze. Meanwhile the high gloss delivers first-class design and aesthetics.
The 20 micrometer thin film was successfully tested on Syntegon’s vertical form, fill and seal machines, which feature the newly-developed PHS 2.0 sealing technology. This technology reduces the amount of clamped film by 25 percent and increases packaging speed by up to 25 percent. The thin TF-BOPE film also requires less cooling time which increases packaging speed even more. During the evaluations, a constant speed of 130 bags per minute was achieved.
For packers, TF-BOPE film delivers a robust sealing performance and increased productivity resulting from improved packaging speed. The thin gauge results in increased film roll efficiency which reduces logistic handling, storage space and transport costs.
For converters and brand owners, SABIC’s TF-BOPE film material offers a wide range of benefits that include good printability, cost-saving opportunities, higher yield, less consumption of plastic materials and lower packaging taxes due to reduced material consumption. It further reduces the package weight to product weight ratio, resulting in a more optimized packaging design.
The TF-BOPE film is based on SABIC© LLDPE BX202 grade, which is available globally. TF-BOPE stands for Tenter Frame Biaxially Oriented Polyethylene. This is a PE grade that can run in tenter frame machines traditionally used to make Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) film. TF-BOPE has the potential to be used in new applications and markets which support the circular economy, where mono material solutions are required to enhance recyclability. TF-BOPE can replace multi material laminates into a mono-PE structure.
SABIC® TF -BOPE polymer is part of the “Design for Recyclability” under TRUCIRCLE™ solutions supports easy and full recyclability through enabling mono-PE material structure in multilayer tenter frame of flexible packaging, aiming to minimize waste. This new product can be also available as certified circular polymer from the company’s TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio. At SABIC, the TRUCIRCLE™ initiative encompasses the company’s circular materials and technologies, which include certified circular polymers from the chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste and certified renewable polymers based on bio-based renewable feedstock.
This innovative plastic packaging has now been presented by the participating companies Zur Mühlen Gruppe (Gutfried), BASF, SABIC and SÜDPACK. The special thing: Around two-thirds of the raw materials used for the packaging come from plastic waste, which is thus reconverted into valuable raw materials. In this way, the collaboration partners want to make a contribution to reducing waste volumes and conserving valuable resources. During the chemical recycling process of mixed plastic waste, the used plastic is converted into pyrolysis oil in a high-temperature process. Like fossil based raw materials, this oil is then used at the beginning of the chemical production chain, thus saving conventional crude oil. The recycled content is allocated to the chemical end products via a mass balance method. The products thus have the same high quality and performance as new products. The bottom film and top film of the packaging each consist of several layers of different polymers and are produced by the film producer SÜDPACK. BASF supplies the necessary polyamide, SABIC supplies the polyethylene. Both components are based on raw materials that have been recycled chemically from mixed plastic waste which was not possible before. "The innovative packaging based on recycled raw materials is a perfect match for our new Gutfried organic chicken meat sausage," says Maximilian Tönnies, Managing Director of the Zur Mühlen Gruppe. This group also includes the Zur Mühlen Gruppe with its Gutfried sausage brand. "Our customers increasingly value sustainability. This of course applies to the production of our products, but also to aspects such as packaging". The new product therefore not only stands for enjoyment without regrets, but also for less plastic waste and the careful use of limited resources. "More than a year ago, SABIC already took a big step forward with the chemically recycled products from the TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio to close the waste cycle of plastics", says Mark Vester, global circular economy lead at SABIC. Christoph Gahn, responsible for BASF's polyamide business in Europe, adds: "Plastic products made of chemically recycled material can be recycled again after use without impacting the quality". High quality and food-conformity of the material are crucial when used in food packaging. "If the material and thus the oxygen barrier fails, the packaged product would no longer be optimally protected and in the worst case could spoil early," explains Carolin Grimbacher, managing partner and head of research and development at SÜDPACK. Product safety is therefore top priority, especially with sensitive foods such as meat.
Eden Mill, Scotland’s first single-site distillery and brewery, crafting gin, whisky and beer, opted to change the packaging of its stylish pink gin in response to trade and consumer feedback. The result is a new lightweight glass bottle, which is more easily recycled than its ceramic counterpart. And by using 18% less glass than most other spirit bottles, it attracts a lower carbon footprint, helping Eden Mill to emphasise its sustainability commitment. From an aesthetic perspective, the crystal cut dimple effect ties into heritage of St Andrews and golf, replicating the style of bottle previously used on the Eden Mill distillery site back in the 1800s. An additional benefit of the design is that it provides much better pouring capability for the trade in mixing and serving drinks, as well as in stock taking. The bottle is complemented by a printed shield label design on the front and a white cork stopper as a closure. “Having listened to feedback from both trade and consumers, the new glass Love Gin design represents an important statement for Eden Mill,” said Tony Kelly, co-owner of Eden Mill. “By being 100% carbon efficient, we aim to be the first carbon neutral distillery by 2022, so from a sustainability perspective, moving to glass is the right strategy for the business. It also enables us to create some important production and supply chain efficiencies as a result. “Once again Croxsons have provided an on-brand solution that not only complements our existing range, but also helps reinforce our heritage in a striking and stylish way, whilst providing some beneficial practicalities, particularly for the trade. It also helps that customers can see the beautiful pink colour of our gin in the bottle”. Croxsons’ chief operating officer, Tim Croxson, commented: “Eden Mill’s ceramic look is well established, but the switch to glass has been important, not least in delivering increased sustainability. As a new addition, the new 70cl size bottle will be well suited to the trade for volume serves, stock takes and ease of pour, while the traditional 50cl Love Gin version will continue to delight consumers.” Eden Mill and Croxsons are currently in collaboration on the development of a glass miniature Love Gin version, which will be used across the range in a variety of miniature packs.
Leading packaging and paper manufacturer, Mondi, is launching a fully recyclable 80% paper-based packaging solution for cold meats and cheese. The new packaging will reduce plastic usage for Austrian dairy producer SalzburgMilch by approximately 40 tonnes per year, compared to its previously used rigid plastic trays. Mondi has launched its innovative PerFORMing removable in partnership with SalzburgMilch for the brand SalzburgMilch Premium and the premium own-brand SPAR Natur*pur organic cheese slices. The shallow paper tray combines the recyclability of paper with the essential barrier properties of a thin plastic coating to keep food fresh and avoid waste. Mondi released its original PerFORMing range in 2019 and has continued to work hard to make it even more sustainable. The original product could be recycled in Austrian paper recycling streams. The updated product now consists of paper and fully removable plastic which can easily be separated from the paper tray allowing for 100% paper recycling across Europe. The product is made locally in Austria, meaning transportation is kept to a minimum and the overall carbon footprint is reduced. The base paper for the tray is Advantage Formable made predominantly from locally sourced wood and produced by Mondi Frantschach, while the trays are processed and coated by Mondi Zeltweg, both located in Austria. PerFORMing removable is part of Mondi’s EcoSolutions approach to find the most sustainable and fit for purpose packaging for its customers with a focus on replacing, reducing, and recycling. SalzburgMilch and SPAR are using Mondi’s product for their 175g packets of sliced cheese, which are available in SPAR stores across Austria. Switching to paper-based packaging offers numerous environmental benefits including being a renewable resource with higher recycling rates than other packaging materials. The paper industry accounts for less than 1% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions1, while 72% of paper in Europe is recycled. Technical details about the product • Formable paper packaging with a patented barrier • Made from natural brown paper (Advantage Formable Brown) • Ideally suited for shallow food trays (e.g. for cheese, meat or fish) • High symmetrical stretch for uniform formability • Suitable for existing filling lines • Results in 70% less plastic used compared to plastic trays • 70% CO2 reduction compare to plastic alternative
The PerFORMing removable range is the first in Europe to create 100% recyclable paper-based food trays Reduction of approximately 40 tonnes of plastic a year for dairy producer SalzburgMilch Reduces carbon footprint by two thirds compared to the previous packaging solution
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