According to recycling data in Spain, the amount of recyclable packaging that people sort and dispose of in selective waste collection bins is continuing to rise.
The most recent report on recycling of household packaging issued by Ecoembes, a non-profit organisation responsible for recycling of light household packaging, shows that, in 2021, 1.5 million tonnes of waste was recycled in Spain. This is the largest figure that has been recorded over the country’s 22 years of recycling history.
Most of that material was plastic; up to 677,096 tonnes of it. Driven by our desire to protect the environment and, moreover, in response to the amount of non-recycled plastic waste we generate, we are making increased use of recycling waste bins.
And it is not only a consumer trend. As manufacturers, we are also putting a lot of effort into developing innovative solutions to create recyclable products and sustainable packaging that contribute towards a circular economy and meet the European directive on plastics.
With this in mind, we would like to share our SPG Group 100% recyclable packaging and mono-material innovation projects presented as part of our Eco Range.
INNOVATIVE PACKAGING THAT IS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
We aim to create recyclable packaging that is as environmentally friendly as possible and furthers the cause of the circular economy. To achieve this, we need to innovate and come up with new solutions such as mono-material options.
Thanks to research and technology, we can develop multilayer structures made from just one polymer or one that makes up at least 95% of the packaging. This facilitates recycling following use.
There are many advantages to mono-material packaging. Mono-material packaging is easier to recycle and makes the production process a lot simpler because it consumes less energy and resources.
In short, it is more sustainable and brings company expenditure down.
This packaging must also have as little impact on the environment as possible. This is why we are championing development of packaging that is 100% recyclable, has exceptional properties and is a suitable alternative to non-recyclable structures.
RECYCLABLE PACKAGING AND SP GROUP
At SP Group, we continuously invest in innovation so that we can meet sustainability and competitiveness goals. This includes, for example, some of the challenges we set ourselves for 2019, which also meet the 2030 sustainability guidelines drawn up by the European Commission.
We believe that investing in innovation is a must if we want to develop new products that meet current market needs while enhancing respect for the environment and minimising our carbon footprint. It helps us stand out in our sector and elevates our competitiveness.
By making these investments, we can develop materials that are 100% recyclable with a mono-material structure and elevated barrier properties. We can now present our Eco Range of recyclable packaging; a new addition to our product catalogue.
HOW IS RECYCLABLE PACKAGING MANUFACTURED?
If we want to understand the importance and characteristics of recyclable products, we need to understand how they are manufactured and why they are different to other types of packaging.
Recyclable packaging has one or more materials that can be recycled, meaning that its original properties can be utilised at least to some extent.
The materials we have at SP Group can be recycled, which means that they can be utilised to create new packaging and, as such, bring the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process for these new products down.
If we want packaging to be recyclable, it has to include materials that guarantee this recyclability. In our case, the materials that can do this include PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP. All these materials are in all our Eco Range of products and this means they are 100% recyclable packaging.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RECYCLABLE PAKCAGING AND BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING
The search for materials that contaminate less and aid the circular economy is driving development of different production processes that lead to sustainable materials with their own specific characteristics.
We commonly confuse recyclable packaging with biodegradable packaging. Both are environmentally friendly but they have very different characteristics.
THE NEW ECO RANGE OF RECYCLABLE AND MONO-MATERIAL PACKAGING
The SP Group Eco Range is continuing to expand and new models are being added all the time. They adapt to market needs and to our clients’ needs. Their features are explained below.
PE HB ECO: EXCELLENT BARRIER PROPERTIES
We can make the most of the excellent properties in PE HB ECO material to create high-quality recyclable products. These are just some of the main ones:
- a great barrier to light, smell, oxygen, steam and liquid;
- a sustainable material that seals quickly;
- very resistant to heat treatment and, as such, can be used for hot filling, processing in microwaves and pasteurisation up to 95ºC;
- can adapt to different packaging formats such as stand-up bags, three-weld bags, bags with a side gusset and can be filled either horizontally or vertically.
At SP Group, we recommend using PE HB ECO for sauces and liquids, ready meals, dried fruit, herbs and spices, food and diet supplements, dry foods, coffee and even snacks for pets.
ECO PE WITH A MONO-MATERIAL STRUCTURE
Along with PE HB ECO, PE ECO is one of the first in our Eco Range to hit the market. It is a mono-material structure that is recyclable and does not have barrier properties. The following are its main stand-out features:
- like PE HB ECO, it is a sustainable material that has a quick-seal feature;
- it is incredibly transparent;
- it is very resistant to heat treatment such as pasteurisation, hot filling and microwave processing;
- with regards to how it can be used in packaging, it is suitable for flat pouches and can be filled horizontally or vertically.
We can apply PE ECO to many different uses. For food, it is particularly useful for meat or dairy produce, frozen fish and seafood, cured sausages and cheese, in addition to dried fruits and ingredients ranging from spices and superfoods to cereals and pulses.
It is also great for personal and domestic hygiene products such as shower gels, shampoos and cleaning products, among others.
PP HB ECO: A MATERIAL THAT CAN BE STERILISED AND RECYCLED
Yet another addition to the Eco Range for recyclable packaging is PP HB ECO, a complex made from polypropylene with high-barrier properties.
This material has been assessed by the CYCLOS-HTP institute and has been certified as recyclable with an AA score, meaning it is 90% recyclable. This is thanks to the fact that it is made almost entirely of polypropylene.
These are some of its stand-out features:
- it is a suitable alternative to non-recyclable structures with aluminium films, metal coatings and multi-material structures;
- it can withstand heat treatment such as sterilisation, pasteurisation, microwaves and hot filling;
- it can prolong the useful life of products and helps minimise food waste;
- It is also very transparent and far superior to other more conventional polypropylene structures.
In terms of what it can be used for, at SP Group, we recommend using PP HB ECO for foods that need to be sterilised. For example, sauces and ready meals. It is perfect for the baby food industry and on-the-go formats, as well as wet pet food.
PP HB ECOTOP: A HIGH-BARRIER RECYCLABLE TOP FILM
In the Eco Range we also have PP HB ECOTOP, which is a recyclable top film with elevated barrier properties.
We can combine this material with others such as the new heat seal RST B ECO base web for vacuum applications that need to be sterilised or rigid thermoformed trays made from polypropylene. These are some of its key characteristics:
- it is a high-barrier material that is perfect for vacuum packed items that need to be sterilised. The heat treatment can prolong the useful life of products and helps minimise food waste.
- The structure is designed to be recyclable and has over 90% polypropylene in its composition. Furthermore, the other materials in it do not affect its ability to be recycled.
PP HB ECOTOP is perfect for convenience food vegetables that are vacuum packed, such as sweetcorn and beetroot. It is also great for ready meals.
Specifically, we can use the PP HB ECOTOP top film for hot fill foods such as rice, jams and baby foods.
In addition, this material is ideal for products destined for international markets, particularly Germany, because the leading recycling trend there prioritises polypropylene in the composition of recycled plastic packaging.
RST B ECO FOR VACUUM PACKING
We also have RST B ECO in our Eco Range for recyclable packaging. It is a new thermoformable base web made from polypropylene. As mentioned, it works perfectly in combination with the PP HB ECOTOP flexible top film.
Here are some additional features that we should keep in mind:
- it has high-level barrier properties and is suitable for sterilisation;
- it cannot be easily broken or pierced;
- it is a great product for vacuum packing and is recyclable thanks to its composition, which is over 90% polypropylene.
RST B ECO can be used for the same purposes as the PP HB ECOTOP flexible top film. In other words, for convenience food vegetables that are vacuum packed and ready meals.