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Henkel and Borealis join project to improve plastics recycling solutions

By Mary Page Bailey |

A joint development project between Henkel (Düsseldorf, Germany; www.henkel.com), packaging manufacturer Mondi, plastics manufacturer Borealis AG (Vienna, Austria; www.borealisgroup.com) and the recycling technology company APK aims to significantly improve the sustainability of plastic multi-layer flexible packaging.

“APK AG, based in Merseburg near Leipzig, Germany, has developed an innovative solvent-based process, called Newcycling, that enables the recovery of high-quality clean-grade materials from complex multi-layer packaging. The pelletized recycle provides properties similar to those of comparable virgin plastics,” explained Klaus Wohnig, Managing Director of APK AG. Conventional mechanical recycling processes are not able to achieve this. As an additional benefit, the Newcycling process is very economical, delivering recycle grades that can be offered at competitive prices.

Mondi has tested the suitability of recycled low-density polyethylene (LDPE) from APK for multi-layer films at its research and development center in Gronau, Germany, and has carried out successful preliminary tests in a pilot plant on site. In this project, the LDPE virgin material previously used in flexible detergent packaging was largely replaced by APK LDPE recycled materials. Mondi uses the reclaimed material in the coextrusion and lamination of PE film with printed PET film to form a composite duplex structure, while maintaining the external appearance of the detergent bag. “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. It also underscores the feasibility of reusing flexible packaging waste in multiple cycles of a truly circular economy that preserves valuable resources and avoids waste without restricting product performance,” said Timo Müller, Key Account Manager for Henkel at Mondi.

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

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