Project creates flexible packaging from post-consumer plastic
Project Proof, an initiative led by packaging and paper company Mondi Group, has shown that unclean, raw, post-consumer recycled content can be used to create new flexible packaging. Using at least 20% post-consumer plastic waste, the project has created a proof-of-concept prototype of a flexible plastic pouch that is suitable for packaging non-food household products such as laundry or dishwasher detergent.
Mondi spearheaded Project Proof to explore the possibility of producing two new flexible plastic packaging products: a recyclable, flexible packaging plastic made with a percentage of post-consumer waste and a form fill and seal pouch for food applications.
The project is part of Mondi’s commitment to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative, focused on designing products in line with circular economy principles. Mondi will now develop its prototype further to ensure it can be rolled out as a commercially viable product.
Mondi Consumer Packaging CEO Georg Kasperkovitz said, “We believe that working in partnership is key to finding a solution for plastic waste by driving innovation and broad systemic change throughout the plastics value chain with a focus on replacing, reducing and recycling.”
The sourced post-consumer waste was considered to be the ‘worst-case scenario’ of uncleaned and unprocessed material. After washing and sorting, the result was a recycled polymer resin, suitable for producing flexible packaging. This was processed into a final prototype, a usable stand-up pouch.
“We wanted to see what was possible with the worst input, and we were able to create a fully usable prototype,” explained Graeme Smith, Mondi’s Sustainability Manager.
The second part of Project Proof focused on long-life food pouches, with the standards for food applications held to high technical specifications. The aluminium barrier often found in food-standard plastic packaging can extend shelf life, but creates problems for recycling. Project Proof created an opportunity for companies to re-evaluate and possibly reduce the specifications for certain requirements, allowing more sustainable materials to be used. Mono-materials are already being tested, the use of which will make recycling possible in existing waste streams.
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