Multilayer packaging as a challenge

Multilayer packaging in particular, while offering a high protective function for products, poses a great challenge for recycling companies. The different materials must first be separated and then processed separately too. The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV) has developed a technology that makes this possible.

Multilayer laminate films are often used in plastic packaging. These consist of various polymers such as PE/PA or PP/PET as well as aluminum layers. Such composite materials fulfil functions that monomaterials do not offer. For example, they protect food and consumer goods from light or oxygen. For recycling though, the individual materials of the packaging must first be separated. However, this has not been possible to date, which is why such a waste stream has not been considered recyclable and instead is thermally recovered. However, the IVV has now developed a technology that makes separation possible. „With the development of the solvent-based CreaSolv process, a clean separation of plastic composites and contaminated household waste has been achieved for the first time. This technology is suitable for the production of high-quality, high-purity plastics with virgin material quality. Odors and impurities are also safely eliminated,“ explains the Institute. The patented CreaSolv technology is a registered trademark of CreaCycle GmbH.

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With the patented CreaSolv process, both post-consumer packaging and post-industrial waste can be recycled in a closed-loop process, explains the Institute. The process can be modified to suit the composition of the waste. It dissolves target plastics as a monomaterial from mixed plastics or composites and processes them into high-quality regranulates, for example for use in new packaging. In this way recycling rates for composite packaging and multilayer films can thus be significantly increased.