Research on recyclable alternatives for laminates
At the end of November '19, the Knowledge Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV) from the Netherlands published its report on the research it had carried out on recyclable alternatives for laminates.
Laminates are multilayer, flexible foils that are frequently used as food packaging. They are strong and light and make sure that our food has a longer shelf life. At present, however, laminates are not yet optimally circular. On the one hand, it is not yet financially profitable to recycle laminates while maintaining quality, on the other hand it is also difficult to produce laminates based on recycled material.
Companies that aim to make all their plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and use less fossil raw materials are therefore facing a major challenge. This prompted the KIDV to conduct research into viable alternatives to laminate packaging, which are available in the short or medium term, which can be used as circularly as possible (fully recyclable) and provide the correct functionality.
For the study, 10 laminate packaging that are often used to package food were compared to possible alternative materials, regarding:
1. environmental impact
3. processability in the packaging process,
4. product protection,
5. marketing (appearance),
6. compatibility with the available recycling process and
7. specific details of the alternative materials
The study has shown that in practice a 1 in 1 replacement is usually difficult or even impossible. In addition, the original materials are usually designed for specific applications and optimized over the years. Therefore, case by case it must be evaluated to which extend a change of material has a critical impact on the functionality of the packaging.
More detailed findings and recommendations from the KIDV can be found in the report "Recyclable alternatives to laminates" (see www.kidv.nl). (only available in Dutch)