Mondi accelerates efforts to create flexible packaging from post-consumer recycled plastic11 June 2019
Mondi Group, a global leader in packaging and paper, led Project Proof, a Pioneer Project facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). The project has created a proof-of-concept prototype flexible plastic pouch incorporating a minimum of 20% post-consumer plastic waste originating from mixed household waste. The pouch is suitable for packaging household products such as detergent.
Project Proof is part of Mondi’s commitment to the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Economy Initiative. It is focused on designing products in line with circular economy principles and has shown that it is possible to use unclean and raw post-consumer recycled content to create new flexible packaging. Mondi will now develop the prototype further to ensure it can be rolled out as a commercially viable product for its multinational FMCG customers. This will support Mondi’s work as a signatory of the New Plastics Economy Commitment to ensure a minimum of 25% of post-consumer waste is incorporated across all its flexible plastic packaging where food contact regulations allow by 2025.
Georg Kasperkovitz, CEO Mondi Consumer Packaging says: “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.”
Mondi spearheaded Project Proof to examine whether it is possible to produce two new flexible plastic packaging products: a recyclable plastic for flexible packaging made with a percentage of post-consumer waste; and a form fill and seal (FFS) pouch for food applications. Aiming to replace multilayer laminates, often found in food packaging, and therefore increasing recyclability. As the use of recycled materials and the creation of more recyclable plastics in flexible packaging increases in popularity, they will help circularity in the marketplace.
The Group’s customer-centric approach, EcoSolutions, is helping customers to achieve their sustainability goals by focusing on packaging that is sustainable by design – paper where possible, plastic when useful.
Recycling with post-consumer material under the worst conditions
The first phase of the project successfully produced a prototype made with a minimum of 20% post-consumer waste, a flexible pouch for non-food applications such as laundry or dishwasher detergent. The origins of the post-consumer waste used were considered the worst-case of uncleaned and unprocessed material possible. After washing and sorting using a variety of technologies, the result was a recycled polymer resin, suitable for producing flexible packaging. This was processed into a final prototype, a fully-usable stand up pouch. The pouch has excellent construction, seal strength and zipper integrity. Its appearance is reminiscent of recycled paper with the mixed plastic material creating little flecks of inconsistent colouring.
“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 Consumer Packaging’s sustainability manager. This proof-of-concept underlines the potential what could be manufactured when better quality, pre-sorted materials are used as input. Better waste collection mechanisms and a focus on packaging designed for recycling will improve this process and help close the sustainability loop.