Flexible food packaging has traditionally presented brand owners with a choice – either extract the maximum performance parameters or make it fully recyclable. Achieving both goals at once has been almost impossible.
Mondi has created a recyclable polypropylene film that is ideal for the thermoforming of flexible films for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging, which is known for its ability to extend the shelf life of products such as meat and cheese.
The new, coextruded material includes a top and bottom web, with an internal barrier layer that comprises less than 5% of the entire structure, meaning it qualifies as a mono-material construction and is fully recyclable in existing waste streams. The Aachen, German based Institut cyclos-HTP – the Institute for Recyclability and Product Responsibility – has independently certified that both the top and bottom webs of this construction have the highest qualification ‘Class AAA’ in recyclability.
The previous multi-material construction rendered the previous packages unrecyclable and also resulted in a much higher carbon footprint as confirmed by life cycle analyses.
‘We are delighted to report that this innovative new film reduces the package’s carbon footprint by 23% compared to existing conventional structures,’ said Günter Leitner, managing director of Mondi Styria, the Austrian plant that produces this film.
Thomas Kahl, project manager EcoSolutions for Mondi Consumer Packaging, explained: ‘Mondi’s view is that packaging should always be fit for purpose – paper where possible, plastic when useful – and sustainable by design. The challenge with this project was to maintain the functionality that is key to such applications, including excellent oxygen and moisture barriers, and high puncture resistance – while also enhancing the package’s recyclability. The latter factor was vital as Mondi continues to support the principles of a circular economy.’
Customers who use this product can thermoform a fully recyclable PP film that retains all the functionality of the previous, multi-material construction, achieve great sealability in the resulting package due to both the top and bottom web being the same, compatible material, benefit from excellent optical properties and an outstanding gas barrier that provides for longer shelf life of the packed foodstuffs.
This latest development is fully in line with the design guidelines of major brand owners and retailers who have sustainability in mind. This thermoformable food packaging corresponds to their requirements for redesigning flexible packaging to become more sustainable, while also meeting the challenges laid out in the ‘New Plastic Economy’ global initiative which is striving toward a more circular and sustainable economy.