Product Technology Innovation of the Year 2020

Worldwide, more than 380 million 4-loop big bags are sold every year, which equals an annual recycling potential of approx. 800,000 tons of material. PP woven plastic bags are far too valuable to end up on dumpsites or burned in an incineration plant so the key objective of Starlinger ́s sustainable concept “circular packaging” is to recycle post-consumer big bags in a closed-loop that begins with virgin granulate and leads back to regranulate (rPP) through the process steps usage, recovery, recycling and the final reprocessing of new big bags from virgin material mixed with up to 50% rPP. In cooperation with the big bag manufacturers Louis Blockx and LC Packaging this closed loop was simulated. Final tests of these rPP big bags have shown the same quality as big bags made from virgin material in terms of tensile strength, weight, and safety factor.

Starlinger provides the machinery equipment from mechanical recycling up to complete lines for big bag production. For the production of rPP big bags the technology had to be redesigned and adapted in such a way that all process steps have to be matched perfectly and the adding of regranulate up to 50% is possible without a quality loss in the end product.

The challenge in recycling big bags is that they come in many different forms, qualities and material mixtures. Therefore additionally the “Design for Recycling” (DfR), a big bag “passport”, traceability and material management are important factors within the closed-loop concept from Starlinger.

Ampacet ReViveTM 962 E is part of internal R3 (Reuse-Reduce-Recycle) program for sustainability.

Ampacet ReViveTM 962 E is a specialty compatibilizer masterbatch designed for EVOH-based polyolefin barrier films. The purpose of this masterbatch is to allow EVOH-polyolefin polymer mix to be reprocessed and therefore participates to the circular economy.

Ampacet ReViveTM 962 E improves the homogeneity and the physical properties of regrind material, enabling the reuse of EVOH-polyolefin multi-material reclaim material back into quality film applications. It therefore helps valorizing EVOH-based barrier film industrial scarps and wastes and reducing the consumption of virgin polymers.

Ampacet ReViveTM 962 E also preserves clarity of packaging it is made off.

Siliconized plastic films are used for many industrial applications whenever an anti- adhesive surface is required. The main siliconized plastic film used on the market is the BOPET (Polyester bi-oriented).

Siliconature produces two types of siliconized BOPET film - Silphan and R-Silphan. Silphan is the brand for the product composed of 100% virgin PET.

R-Silphan is the brand for the product composed of 70% virgin PET and 30% of recycled post-consumer PET. The R-Silphan is accompanied by GRS 2019-167 certification. Siliconature has invested around 50 million € for a special extrusion line, equipped with an additional extrusion system that permits to use post-consumer PET to produce BOPET. The line is equipped with an in-line silicone coating process. The new investment extrudes 15.000 ton/year of siliconized Silphan or R-Silphan and, both products have the same main characteristics. So the R-Silphan can replace the Silphan in all industrial applications where an anti-adhesive surface is required.

Siliconature is the first company in the world that produces regularly siliconized BOPET, manufactured using 30% of post-consumer PET.

An example of a large utilization of siliconized R-Siphan are the self-adhesive labels. When the labels are applied on the goods the R-Silphan remain as waste (it is called spent liner) and the best reuse would be to re-extrude it to produce new R-Silphan. The special silicone formulation used on R-Silphan has been studied to give the minimum impact when the spent R-Siphan will be re-extruded to produce new R-Silphan.

Ampacet Odor Scavenger is part of internal R3 (Reuse-Reduce-Recycle) program for sustainability.

Ampacet’s Odor Scavenger is an innovative powerful wide-spectrum odor absorbing masterbatch that has been specially designed for use with recycled polyethylene (rPE) to neutralize odors of post-consumer recycled material and keep them enclosed inside the polymer.

The addition of odor scavenger allows to increase the ratio of post-consumer recycled polyethylene (PCR) in the production of end articles, while keeping the odor level down.

Odor Scavenger has no significant impact on production process and physical properties of the polymer and helps reducing the carbon footprint.

Today 70 billion kilo of virgin polyester is produced all over the world every year. 91% of the polyester in the world is not recyclable because it contains colors or additives. So what if we could recycle all polyester? What if we could find a real CuRe?

Together with Cumapol, DSM-Niaga, DuFor and Morssinkhof, in close collaboration with NHL Stenden University, CuRe Technology discovered a smarter and scalable solution. Together the partners have decades of experience in virgin and recycled polyester, mechanical recycling, waste preparation and materials science. The new technology is called CuRe.

CuRe wants to realise low energy recycling for difficult to recycle, colored and mixed polyester waste streams, with the aim to CuRe any type of used polyester by removing the color and converting it into clear pellets with the same properties as virgin grade polyester. CuRe Technology, has strong own core technology and also allows for modular add on other technologies, giving flexibility to choose the best route depending on the type of polyester waste. A pilot plant has been built in Emmen for rapid scale-up, and the testing is projected for 2020.

The aim is to look for partnerships all over the world, not only to improve the technology, but also to share know-how of how we produce, use and collect polyester products.

We can not CuRe on our own.

Polystyrene Loop Coöperatief U.A. will build the plant as PolystyreneLoop BV in Terneuzen, Netherlands. The company aims to set up a demonstration plant for recycling polystyrene foam construction waste (both EPS and XPS) containing the legacy chemical HBCD and (H)CFC’s. It will separate and destruct the obtained HBCD and will recycle and sell polystyrene beads (PS) compliant to the POP regulation described in the Basel Convention. The separated bromine, will be destructed in the Bromine recovery unit (BRU) based at ICL, Terneuzen.

EPS construction waste coming from buildings that were insulated with EPS before August 2015 all contain a now banned POP substance, rendering all this EPS unrecyclable.

Members of the cooperative will take the 100% recycled EPS and will use it again in construction applications, as feedstock for extrusion of EPS beads, or via continuous XPS foaming.

It is the first time in Europe that a 2-step solvent upcycling factory is realised. The purification Process is a Solvent-based Purification and therefore “Physical Recycling”. This opens a real-life scale platform technology for other difficult waste streams like Styrenics based electronic waste (WEEE) also containing legacy brominated flame retardants.

The carbon footprint was verified in a peer reviewed LCA by TüV Rheinland and showed a 50% lower carbon footprint than the only other allowed End of Life option, which is incineration.

In the EU, the potential for recycling plastic waste is still largely unexploited, particularly in comparison with other materials like paper, glass or metals. Out of over 27 million tons of plastic waste collected in Europe every year, less than one third goes to recycling plants. This trend could become more pronounced now that Asian countries close their borders for plastic waste.

Acting as a catalyst, Valipac initiated the Circular Shrink Hood project and brought together the entire value chain to find a solution for the recycling challenge. Project partners were Total, Rymoplast-Morssinkhof, Oerlemans Packaging, Wienerberger, FEMA, Go4circle and Circular Flanders. The project team has successfully proven that the 3 million tons of plastic transport packaging used yearly in the EU can fit in a circular model.

The technical collaboration between Total, Rymoplast and Oerlemans yielded a 130 μm shrink hood containing 50% PCR that perfectly matches the performance parameters of a 100% virgin material film. The packaging trial (on an industrial scale) at Wienerberger proved that the shrink hood could be applied on pallets filled with bricks without any mechanical or process modification. Tested at an independent lab the circular shrink hood met the EUMOS 40509 standard, showing its road worthiness. Valipac is now disseminating the knowledge gathered during the project among a large number of companies interested in using a circular shrink hood to protect their products during storage and transport.

Ampacet Blue Edge 226 is part of internal R3 (Reuse-Reduce-Recycle) program for sustainability.

Ampacet Blue Edge 226 is a masterbatch designed to offset the “dirty” yellowish / brownish shades of recycled polyethylene (rPE).

Imparting a light bluish tone providing a clearer and fresher look and increasing customer appeal, Blue Edge 226 allows to improve the ratio of recycled polymer used in the production of flexible packaging.

Another significant impact of Blue Edge 226 is to reduce the formation of gels and visible defects during processing of rPE, enhancing the aesthetics of flexible packaging. Blue Edge 226 demonstrates a positive impact on sustainability of the plastic and plastic packaging industry and acts as a booster for circular economy.

Unilever is committed to halving use of virgin plastic in its packaging by 2025. The largest contribution to delivering this commitment will come from a significant increase in use of recycled plastic.

The rest –more than 100,000 tonnes in total –will come from reducing use of plastic altogether which will be achieved using new business models like re-use and refill, as well as new innovations to allow our products to go to market plastic free. In Partnership with Sabic, Unilever is introducing New Circular Resins on Magnum Ice Cream Tubs and Knorr UFS Euro-Containers.

Magnum Tubs have a unique product structure: Ice cream with chocolate shards are encased in a chocolate shell all around and on top of the ice cream. Since every great Magnum experience starts with the iconic sound of cracking chocolate, we had designed a squeezable pack, only possible on plastic, to crack the chocolate shell before eating the product. They are made of PP which is widely recyclable.

Knorr Food Service Products are used by Chefs to create exciting, high quality culinary experiences. Made from Polypropylene, the Euro-containers that Chefs use every day offer superior protection, reuse-ability and communication vs. Single use packaging. Since plastic packaging is required to deliver a holistic product experience, Unilever took the lead and is the 1st global company to use recycled Food Grade PP in its food packaging. This enabled the move to a renewable plastic source while supporting the circular economy. This initiative helps create an effective circular plastics economy, driving increased collection, reduced leakage of waste plastics into environment & reduced sourcing from fossil fuels.

Ecoplasteam is an Italian company that has developed an innovative process for the recycling of polylaminate materials, which are most commonly used for beverage cartons, composed of 20% polyethylene, 5% aluminum and the remaining 75% cellulose. This packaging, once collected and sorted, is sent to the paper mills that extract the cellulose. The paper mills deliver polyethylene and aluminum waste to Ecoplasteam company for processing.

In Ecoplasteam, through a patented process, these materials are processed to produce a new recycled plastic, the EcoAllene®.

The new material is similar in characteristics and uses to virgin plastic, and it can be used to produce products in the stationery, work equipment, various types of packaging in the cosmetic and detergent sector, fashion accessories and furnishings. The first production plant is running in Italy, with a capacity of 6,000 tons per year. Three new plants are scheduled by 2023.

The characteristics that make EcoAllene® so distinctive are: it is made of 100% post- consumer material, it can be recycled again and it is colorable. The most important feature is its constant processability and supply, guaranteed by the constant supply of waste raw materials.

This allows EcoAllene® to be constant and repeatable over time and in the lots that are supplied to the customer.

Virgin plastic is produced from petroleum, while EcoAllene® “oil” is the waste of food packaging: constant over time in terms of composition and characteristics.

Interactive IML labels are enhanced with a Digimarc Barcode. This imperceptible barcode transforms the mono-polypropylene IML package into an intelligent packaging, by giving it a digital identity and allowing it to give expanded product information or to tell a story.

In technical terms, a Digimarc Barcode is an approximately 2x2 cm ‘tile’ containing 2 elements, firstly data - a ‘product SKU’ set of information, including the Global Trade Item Number, and other data such as track and trace solutions. The other element is synchronization/navigation. This is data for the camera reading the tile, on how the object is presenting that tile—its scale, skew angle and rotation, for example.

Collection & recycling of packaging waste is a huge challenge and often not easy to understand for the consumers. Interactive IML in combination with an App featuring AR allows the pack to talk to the consumer and explain how to recycle the empty pack. It can be connected with the GPS location so that wherever you are, you get the correct information. At the same time big data is collected that can be of huge importance to optimize the way waste is collected and recycled in the future.

HolyGrail2.0 Compatible - Interactive IML puts intelligence into the packaging itself, so a recycling system with cameras and Digimarc Barcode detection can benefit from an exhaustive set of data, which even allows for ‘hyper-sorting’.

In essence, the object has a ‘digital recycling passport’ explaining how and where it was made, distinguishing a food or non-food package and confirming the percentage compositions of each layer in it, including any different plastics. The result is a more efficient and high-value waste stream, as part of a true circular economy.

SealPPeel die-cut lidding is a mono PP-material solution for heat sealing PP, PS and PET packaging. Allowing the complete packaging to be fully recycled contributing to the circular economy.

Often people throw away the empty packaging with the aluminum lidding still attached to it. Or when opening the pack, the aluminum lid was torn apart, leaving aluminum residues on the sealing edge, preventing packaging being sorted and recycled. In case material with aluminum residues does get recycled, they can cause serious problems during the recycling process and it will have a negative impact on the overall quality of the recycled material.

Unique sealing technique - SealPPeel has a lower temperature resistance than aluminum foil and therefore, polymer based lidding solutions are more difficult to seal without destroying the surface layer. Verstraete has developed a patented and unique heat-sealing technique to allow proper sealing at lower temperatures without having a negative impact on the sealing time.

SealPPeel is mono PP-material without heat-seal lacquer, alternative to aluminum lidding, fully recyclable and DfR and Circular Economy proof, allowing the entire packaging to be recycled.

Safety & Convenience - metal detectors can be used on packaging sealed with SealPPeel, it meets all food safety regulations, is suitable for use in microwave ovens, easy peel off, with no tearing and no residues.

Efficiency of the process is increased with lower sealing temperature and shorted sealing time, leading to reduced energy costs and lower CO2 footprint.

In a world first, this project developed a label substrate that is made from 100% PCR Polyethylene. The label utilises a soluble adhesive which allows recyclers to more easily remove the labels from plastic containers.

In trials PE bottles were granulated to flakes before undergoing the hot-wash process which washed-off the labels – including the adhesive. The flakes were washed at 70°C with NaOH and detergent. After rinsing and drying the lighter label film fragments were then efficiently separated from the heavier bottle flakes in an elutriator. The bottle flakes ended up being free from adhesive or ink residuals – providing a high- quality raw material that can be recycled and turned into new high-quality products. Combining this innovation with advanced sorting technology like invisible barcodes or fluorescent markers/tracers that are printed on the labels in order to sort the different materials and distinguish between food-grade and non-food-grade applications, leads to premium quality recycled materials.

By using a label material made from 100% Post-consumer recycled PE we save resources, reduce the carbon footprint and further enhance the circular economy of plastic materials.

A combined wash-off adhesive label and smart sorting technology will close the loop by improving the recyclability of the primary packaging (bottles, jars, etc.) and increasing yield and quality of the recycled materials, making them more valuable to recyclers and the entire packaging supply chain.

With higher quality, the PCR materials gain acceptance from brand-owners, retailers and packaging companies in many more applications.