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Comment Packaging

Dow validates recyclable polyethylene packaging that performs as barrier

By Scott Jenkins |

The Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, Mich.; www.dow.com) recently announced that it has completed validation of a new plastic film technology that can be recycled in existing processes for flexible polyethylene (PE) packaging, but that also performs well as an oxygen barrier in food packaging applications. PE is a poor barrier for oxygen, so it has been paired with polyester and other materials to make suitable food packages. But the layered multi-polymer film cannot be recycled because it is difficult to separate the layers. Recyclable, all-PE films have been developed, but their O2-barrier performance is not good, limiting their use to frozen and certain dry foods. Dow’s new offering provides recyclability with greatly improved barrier performance. Using polymer-based additives, known as Retain, the Dow RecycleReady Technology allows PE to be blended with ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), which possesses good O2-barrier properties. “Normally, PE and EVOH are not compatible,” says Stacy Fields, North American director of packaging solutions for Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “Dow’s Retain polymer modifier allows the EVOH to disperse efficiently into the PE, analogous to the way a surfactant could be used to disperse oil…
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