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Comment IIOT Chemical

New software tool evaluates recyclability of packaging materials

By Mary Page Bailey |

Recyclable packaging is a prerequisite for a functioning circular economy. In order to quickly and reliably determine the recyclability of new packaging, Henkel uses its specially developed software tool EasyD4R. Henkel (Düsseldorf, Germany; www.henkel.com) has now made this assessment tool publicly available on its website under www.henkel.com/easyd4r so that more companies and organizations can use it and more easily develop sustainable packaging solutions.

“We want to promote open collaboration, and accelerate the transition to a circular economy,” says Dr. Thorsten Leopold, Head of International Packaging Development for Home Care products at Henkel. “This can only succeed if all participants along the value chain cooperate – especially with clear definitions and consistent evaluations. By sharing our assessment tool, we want to contribute to the recyclability of packaging.”

The software tool EasyD4R is based on public and recognized criteria catalogues such as those from Plastics Recyclers Europe and is used by Henkel throughout the company. The goal is to quickly and accurately assess the recyclability of packaging already during the early stages of product development. This was confirmed by an independent test completed by Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT. The scientists analyzed the evaluation software and its results and compared them with national as well as international standards.

“With this tool, the recyclability of product packaging can be evaluated very well,” says Dr.-Ing. Markus Hiebel, Head of Sustainability and Resource Management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. “We are delighted that companies like Henkel are taking their responsibility seriously and making a contribution to the development of recyclable packaging.”

The software evaluates the recyclability of packaging based on its composition and the individual weight proportions of the respective components such as basic materials, closures, labels or colors. For all materials in question, the tool stores information on the suitability for identification during sorting, and for processing during recycling. On this basis, EasyD4R shows clear results displayed on a traffic-light evaluation system: It provides information on the recyclability of each design as a percentage and the material combinations which can be optimized for recycling. By doing so, it supports the development of sustainable packaging solutions.

In its packaging strategy, Henkel has set itself the goal to make all packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025*. The proportion of recycled plastic used in packaging for consumer goods products in Europe should increase to 35 percent.

“As a manufacturer using plastic as an important packaging material, we assume our responsibility. We have already made a lot of progress, but at the same time, there is a lot more to do,” says Dr. Thorsten Leopold. “Therefore, in addition to implementing our packaging strategy, we are involved in numerous cross-industry initiatives and cooperations to promote new solutions.”

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