Essentra Packaging boosts carton recycling efficiency!
10 Mar 2022
With over 50 million tonnes of paper and board being recycled in Europe every year, it’s clear that carton manufacturing industry must do its upmost to support the post-consumer recycling process. We have to ensure we maintain the important closed loop of carton use and renewal that drives the circular economy.
A recent 2021 study by The Graz University of Technology in Austria demonstrated that cartons can be repeatedly recycled up to 25 times with no loss of integrity. As such, at Essentra Packaging, we recognise that we have a responsibility to make the carton recycling process as efficient and effective as possible and are investing in dedicated research and development projects to bring new innovations to market that support this drive.
First, we have developed Essentra Re*flect - a plastic-free, 100% recyclable alternative to metpol. This innovative solution retains the metallic layer in the carton for printing, while maintaining the great visual impact of traditional metpol, so important in today’s FMCG industries. Importantly, this new technology removes the need for plastic in the pack design and has been thoroughly tested in our labs for both recyclability and runnability on our customers’ packaging and filling lines. Supporting our customers to meet their sustainability goals, as well as maintaining their ability to deliver outstanding pack visual impact, Re*flect is a drop in solution to replace metpol with no need to adapt artwork or compromise production.
Eliminating plastic fitments
Today’s carton packaging often requires fitments to be incorporated into the design to hold products in place and minimise damage in shipment. Traditionally manufactured from rigid plastics, these fitments cause consumer frustration in having to separate them on disposal to meet the needs of the single material stream recycling process. Alternatively, the plastic ends up in the incorrect paper and board recycling channel causing contamination or packs being routed to landfill instead. At Essentra Packaging, we work closely with our customers to develop carton board alternatives to plastic fitments that provide the same functionality and performance as plastics, without compromising on post use recyclability.
Reducing plastic in carton design
When packs require any form of moisture, oil or grease resistance, the traditional way of incorporating this functionality into a pack is to laminate a polyethylene (PE) plastic film onto the inner face of the carton board substrate. This lamination process introduces plastics into the design that then compromise the recyclability of the pack, contaminating paper and board recycling streams. At Essentra Packaging, our R&D teams are currently working with our ink and coating suppliers to develop appropriate water-based coatings to provide the same performance without the need for plastics. In the interim, we have developed a range of varnishes to provide the aesthetics of laminates including high gloss, soft touch and finger-print resistant to ensure outstanding pack design can be achieved without loss of recyclability.
Finally, the use of digital printing at Essentra Packaging enables our teams to avoid the use of pack embellishments - integration of additional materials in the pack design to deliver shelf stand out - that can contaminate or interrupt today’s mechanical recycling infrastructure. Digital printing is ideal for producing unique designs, limited editions, or packs with serialisation or personalisation, that are still suitable for post-consumer recycling. Used cleverly, it boosts creativity and provides the on-shelf wow factor without compromising the all-important need to be recycled post-consumer use.