The Vienna-based Mondi Group says it has partnered with Mainz, Germany-based consumer products maker Werner & Mertz to be able to introduce a patented 100-percent-recyclable liquids pouch with detachable decorative panels. The pouch is scheduled to debut in 2019.
After almost four years of development, Mondi and Werner & Mertz say the polyethylene (PE) pouch can replace “conventional flexible packaging” for cleaning products such as those made by Werner & Merttz brand Frosch. “The pioneering design overcomes many shortcomings of the recycling process and is the result of a joint effort by Werner & Mertz, Mondi, EPEA Switzerland (Cradle to Cradle), Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland and Institut cyclos-HTP,” according to Mondi.
In 2014, Werner & Mertz decided to develop packaging that is recyclable in the fullest sense, soon opting to work with packaging supplier Mondi.
The companies involved say it was “not about developing flexible plastic packaging that is only theoretically recyclable – packaging likely to end up in landfill. Rather, the design aim was to ‘reverse-engineer’ the recycling process: to create packaging fit for every stage of the recycling process.” That included automated sorting at recycling plants.
“If you want to avoid a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ scenario, the entire value chain must be aligned – from packaging producers through players in sorting and recycling to buyers of recycled material,” states Immo Sander, head of packaging development at Werner & Mertz Group.
The packaging needed to be made of a PE monomaterial, according to those involved. “Our collaboration with Werner & Mertz shows, in the best possible way, how challenges can become solutions,” says Jens Kösters, manager of technical services for Mondi Consumer Goods Packaging, “We worked our way through an ‘innovation funnel’— testing different materials until we arrived at a designed-for-recycling concept that convinced everyone at each point of the value chain. Furthermore, the concept offers clear benefits related to sealing strength and maximum filling volume.”
A final touch, in the form of two layers, was added to solve the issue of recycling printed plastic materials. “We dress the pouch up in an eye-catching ‘outer garment’ that is printed with brand design on the front and consumer info on the back,” says Sander. “When the pouch is empty, we ‘undress’ it automatically by shredding and sorting the two components into separate recycling streams.”
The patented pouch is now 100 percent recyclable, claim those involved. The material is free of glue or adhesives, and the spout and cap are also made of PE.