Borealis, Borouge and Henkel develop flexible packaging

The leading plastics producers Borealis and Borouge,  and detergent giant Henkel have developed two new flexible packaging solutions that contain both pure polyethylene (PE) and a high proportion of post-consumer recycled materials (PCR).

Flexible pouches are one of the fastest growing segments of the packaging industry. Like other flexible packaging types, such as sacks, packages, films, wrappings or wrappers, pouches ensure the integrity, quality and longevity of the package contents while at the same time providing added value through functionality and convenience. Stand-up pouches also have the advantage that brand labels and product information with a special shelf appeal can be positioned optimally on them.

Despite the numerous benefits for consumers and brand owners, flexible packaging solutions will have to exceed their current functionality in the future. Recyclability must be „built in“ to the packaging itself. This is necessary to reduce the overall environmental impact, generate less waste and ensure that the valuable resources needed to produce such packaging are retained for as long as possible in the use cycle.

Cooperation along the value creation chain drives the plastics recycling industry forward. Alongside other sustainability-related efforts, brand owners and packaging manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce the CO2 footprint of packaging. The collaboration between Borealis, Borouge, Henkel and other partners in the value chain has resulted in two novel pouches with market potential. They each contain both virgin PE and larger quantities of high- quality recyclate produced by the Borealis subsidiary Ecoplast. According to the company, the new flexible pouches are a response to strong market demand – particularly in the fast-moving consumer goods sector – for ever more and more diverse consumer applications containing higher levels of PCR. Increasing the proportion of recycled material in packaging is an essential part of efforts to further improve the recycling orientation of plastics.

The first new pouch was developed in close cooperation between Borealis, Borouge and Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care business unit. The pouch is based on the Full PE laminate solution launched already a few years ago by Borealis and Borouge and also uses a new material combination: virgin PE with 30 percent PCR-PE recyclate, produced by Ecoplast, which has an unusually high PCR level for a flexible consumer packaging application. The bag also contains the innovative adhesive from Henkel Adhesive Technologies‘ new RE range, which has been specially developed for recycling purposes („Designed for Recycling“) and enables the mechanical recycling of homogeneous laminates. Among other things, Henkel also plans to use the new pouch in selected regions for its leading detergent brand, Persil. This proves that packaging with a high recycled content that is laminated with an adhesive compatible with mechanical recycling can meet the highest customer requirements in terms of appearance, feel, functionality and convenience.

Higher recyclate content

A second newly developed pouch has an even higher recyclate content. This full PE laminate stand-up bottom pouch consists of both virgin and recycled materials: “BorShape”, “Anteo” and “Queo” as well as 35 percent low density PCR polyethylene (r-LDPE) produced by Ecoplast.

The use of this novel material offers producers attractive opportunities for saving material. „In addition, the raw material requirement in production is reduced, especially for primary raw materials, as the proportion of recycled material in the mix is significantly higher. All in all, this pouch offers a lower total CO2 footprint,“ explains Borealis. Furthermore, the use of Henkel’s special RE plastic range in the production process enables excellent recyclate quality when recycling this product as well as reuse and/or additional recycling cycles. This second pouch prototype is currently being developed and tested by a consortium of value chain partners, reports Borealis.