Packaging made with aluminium is retortable at high temperatures and perfect for creating a recyclable and flexible structure. But when aluminium is combined with other packaging materials it becomes harder to recycle, and our sustainability goals in turn become harder to meet. The aluminium in traditional packaging structures may have rendered them convenient, flexible and retortable, but reusing or separating them for recycling was a problem.
At SP Group, we work hard on innovation so that we can achieve four objectives:
- Obtain biodegradable materials
- Boost recycling in the manufacturing process
- Innovate in mono-materials that enable recycling
- Reduce our carbon footprint
In terms of innovation in mono-materials that enable recycling, we have taken a huge leap forward in making possible the transition from an aluminium flexible structure to a recyclable structure. Want to know how we did it?
ALUMINIUM-FREE RECYCLABLE STRUCTURES: PP HB ECO
Following a lengthy process of research and development, just a few months ago we brought a new product to market: PP HB ECO. We are particularly excited by this launch. Not only does it bring us a step closer to our sustainability commitment, it proves that our innovation muscle is stronger than ever.
Our flexible structure can substitute similar, aluminium-based structures and is manufactured completely with polypropylene. In addition to being a mono-material – and therefore easier to recycle – we avoid the presence of other metallic materials that make the recycling process much more complicated. So, what are the benefits of using polypropylene?
POLYPROPYLENE: THE KEY TO CREATING RECYCLABLE, FLEXIBLE AND RETORTABLE STRUCTURES
Polypropylene has been on the scene for some time. It can be used to create packaging with highly interesting properties (e.g. microwave-safe packaging). It is fully recyclable and generates a much greater volume of recycled material than many other packaging materials. The resulting material also has multiple applications, since it can be used to mould other objects such as furniture or containers.
Polypropylene was therefore the ideal candidate for use as a mono-material in packaging that previously contained aluminium. This packaging must still preserve the food inside in optimal condition and be retortable at high temperatures.
FEATURES OF THE PP HB ECO RECYCLABLE AND FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE
In addition to withstanding retort processes, our product is suitable for pasteurisation and hot-filling and is also microwave-safe. It is ideal for pouch structures with caps (commonly used for baby food), stand-up pouches and three side seal pouches.
It provides a strong barrier against oxygen, aromas and steam and is watertight. What is more, it contains no multi-materials or metals.
OBJECTIVES MET WITH THE PP HB ECO RECYCLABLE AND FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE
This flexible structure constitutes another step towards meeting the European Commission objective for all plastic packaging in the European market to be recyclable or reusable by 2030.
We are aware that we can still do much more. That is why our own R&D&I laboratories are working tirelessly to discover new ways to adapt to initiatives such as the EU’s plastics strategy.
The strategy sets out four measures that enable a transition to a circular economy and have a huge impact on businesses like ours which design and produce plastic products. They stipulate the following:
- We need a clear commitment to designing plastics and plastic products which are easier to recycle.
- We must improve and commit to selective plastics collection.
- Member states must broaden their capabilities in terms of classifying and treating recycled materials.
- There is an urgent need to create markets in which recycled plastics are viable, sought-after products.
The launch of the PP HB ECO flexible structure, which eliminates the aluminium layer from flexible and retortable structures, is good news indeed. It will make it easier for consumers, waste management bodies and producers (in the food sector) to meet these environmental objectives.
For the latest on our product developments that will revolutionise how we consume and our environmental impact, visit our news section. Our achievements and activities are posted there as testament to our environmental commitment.
We want to continue being leaders, not just in the manufacturing of flexible packaging solutions but in sustainable innovation. Stay up to date with our news!