European companies form group to boost flexible packaging recycling

Henkel, APK, Borealis and Mondi seek circular economy path for flexible multilayer packaging.

July 3, 2018
Edited by Dan Sandoval

Henkel, a consumer products company headquartered in Germany; the Austria-based packaging company Mondi; Austria-based plastics manufacturer Borealis; and Germany-based recycling technology company APK AG, have jointly formed a group with the goal to improve the sustainability of plastic multilayer flexible packaging.

“APK AG, based in Merseburg near Leipzig, Germany, has developed a solvent-based process, called Newcycling, which enables the recovery of high-quality clean-grade materials from complex multilayer packaging,” says Klaus Wohnig, managing director of APK AG. “The pelletized recycle provides properties similar to those of comparable virgin plastics.”

Wohnig says the Newcycling process is economical, delivering recycled-content grades that can be offered at competitive prices.

Mondi says it has tested the suitability of recycled LDPE (low-density polyethylene) plastic from APK for multilayer films at its R&D center in Gronau, Germany, and has carried out successful preliminary tests in a pilot plant on-site. In the project, the LDPE virgin material previously used in flexible detergent packaging was largely replaced by APK LDPE recycled-content material. Mondi used the reclaimed material in the coextrusion and lamination of PE (polyethylene) film with printed PET (polyethylene terephthalate) film to form a composite duplex structure while maintaining the external appearance of a detergent bag product.

“The joint project meets the European Commission’s strategy, adopted in January 2018, which calls for all plastic packaging in Europe to be recyclable by 2030,” says Timo Müller, key account manager for Henkel at Mondi. “It also underscores the feasibility of reusing flexible packaging [scrap] in multiple cycles of a truly circular economy that preserves valuable resources and avoids waste without restricting product performance.”

The commercialization of the project and its intended market launch in early 2019 are currently being examined by the four companies.