LOOPACK: Flexible multilayer recyclable packaging
IITENE participates together with the companies LUBRIZOL, SAMTACK, ENPLATER and ACTECO, in the development of flexible packaging with barrier properties for food applications that is easily recyclable.
New EU legislation is moving towards increasingly stringent targets to prevent the end-of-life of plastic from being disposed of. In particular, Directive 2018/852 on packaging and packaging waste contains updated measures designed in order to avoid the production of packaging waste, and promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of packaging waste, thus contributing to the transition towards a circular economy.
To this end, the aim is to develop more sustainable packaging based on materials and design, which must also meet multiple requirements and cover a variety of functions, combining functionality and protection of the products contained.
However, in many cases it is not possible to find a single material that meets all packaging requirements, so solutions such as the use of multi-layer/multi-material structures that combine and cover the required properties are proposed. These structures improve the thermal resistance of the packaging, as well as its barrier to moisture or oxygen, which allows better preservation of the product inside, extending its shelf life and thus reducing food waste.
However, the use of multilayer/multi-material structures presents problems in their recyclability due to the difficulty in their identification, separation and recycling or recovery, which limits the viability of the recycling processes applied.
Objective and results
The LOOPACK project has developed a flexible packaging with barrier properties that is easily recyclable. With this project, the companies LUBRIZOL, SAMTACK, ENPLATER and ACTECO, together with the support of the research centre ITENE, aim to valorise multilayer/multi-material materials, usually used in food packaging, and to reduce the amount of plastic packaging waste that ends up in landfills.
Specifically, the technologies involved in the development of the LOOPACK flexible packaging are based on the following:
- Barrier coatings for simplification of multilayer structures.
- Improved material identification through the use of marker adhesives.
- Facilitating layer separation through the use of a delaminating primer.
- Development of a delaminating process for multilayer multi-material flexible packaging and obtaining high-quality recovered materials.
Once the materials obtained have been validated, the different technologies targeted by the project continue to be optimised to carry out a new pilot test at the beginning of 2023.