Show Daily Exclusive - The flexible packaging industry is tackling sustainability issues head-on, and leaders are working together to make recyclable pouches a reality in support of a more circular economy. According to the Flexible Packaging Association (Booth C-1341), flexible packaging already comes with some impressive sustainability benefits that relate to source reduction, less material going into landfills, reduced food waste via extended shelf life and reclosable features and fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to rigid packaging.
However, consumers pay more attention to how they dispose of a package than how it is made and transported, and creating a consumer-friendly circular path with recyclability has been a bit of an obstacle for flexible packaging. Until recently, most stand-up pouches ended up in the trash because many materials and components go into a flexible pouch. For easy recycling, each element must meet certain requirements.
That is beginning to happen. This year, Bear Naked® granola, a Kellogg product, launched a fully recyclable stand-up pouch. The 18-month journey involved five companies. The goal was to produce a recyclable pouch and do it efficiently while maintaining a consistent experience for consumers. Each organization played a role.
Kellogg wanted to make it easier for loyal consumers to recycle its packaging. It had been using a service for its Bear Naked granola that required consumers to sign up for a special program and ship flexible pouches to a location for recycling. That’s a lot of work.
Instead, the company wanted consumers to be able to take used pouches to retail stores, using the more convenient How2Recycle® program Store Drop- Off. However, before that could happen, Kellogg needed a recyclable film structure that would be acceptable at Drop-Off locations.
The biggest challenge in recyclable flexible packaging is the film structure. Although these packages are lightweight and thin, there are actually many layers of material involved. In order for a flexible package to be acceptable at front-of-store collection bins, a single-source, polyethylene (PE) film is needed. Nine-layer Entour™ film from Berry Global (Booth US-7233) fit the bill and provided other important features related to barrier, window clarity, stiffness, sealability, feel and functionality.
The film that Berry Global manufactures is possible thanks to innovations from Dow Chemical (Booth LS-6584, LS-6585). Dow’s RecycleReady technology includes PE resins for film structures that are approved by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition for the How2Recycle Store Drop-off initiative.
According to Dow, its groundbreaking Retain™ polymer modifiers are compatibilizers, which “allow converters to recycle barrier film trim back into film production without sacrificing optical or physical properties.” Dow also provided a high-performance sealant that helped meet the fast-paced line speeds of machines producing hermetically sealed packaging.
Every facet of a flexible package must fit within the parameters of recyclability. Plus, as packaging materials change to achieve this objective, packaging engineers must make sure other materials and components still function as expected. That includes the ink, which is important if a package is to be attractive and meet brand identity specs. To capture the attention of shoppers and reinforce Bear Naked’s brand image, a registered, matte finish from Colormasters (Booth LS-6709) is applied to the pouch. The finish also provides extra heat resistance so the package runs more efficiently.
Reclosability is a major feature of Bear Naked’s stand-up pouch. Consumers like their granola to stay fresh. But, the zipper needed to be recyclable along with the film. The demand for more sustainable packaging spurred the Fresh- Lock closures team from Presto Products (C-1444) to develop closures that support sustainability efforts.
Zipper style 8113 from the Fresh-Lock 8000 Series is specifically designed to seal to recyclable PE films, an attribute that not all closures can achieve. As a bonus, these zippers also enable faster packaging machine speeds and reliable sealing to avoid channel leakers.
In addition to all the benefits of a fully recyclable stand-up pouch, working with Fresh-Lock closures provides sustainability benefits to converters and manufacturers as well. The Fresh-Lock Green Spool Program minimizes the cost of recycling, allowing large spools to be returned, washed and reused or recycled into single-use spools.
“The Fresh-Lock closures team is proud to be part of the development of Bear Naked’s new recyclable package,” says Brad Hansen, president of Presto Products Specialty Division. “We’re excited to partner with other brands who see value in pursuing more sustainable flexible packaging coupled with reclosability to reduce food waste,” he concludes.
For more information, visit www.berryglobal.com, www.dow.com, www.colormastersllc.com, www.fresh-lock.com. SD