Hoffmann Neopac, a packaging provider for various industries and applications, has announced its latest sustainability initiative: developing mono-material barrier tubes that provide protection for cosmetics, food, and pharma products while being compatible with existing recycling processes.
The EU has announced elevated targets for plastic packaging recyclability, aiming for 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030. Other geographic areas have introduced similar targets, challenging packaging manufacturers to utilize innovative materials and embrace leaner production and logistics initiatives.
Meeting these targets will require increased cooperation between all actors involved in the life cycles of plastics. Over the long term, modernizing and harmonizing systems for waste management is inevitable; in the nearer term, however, eco-minded advancements in the ways plastics are designed and produced are a must.
Multi-layer aluminum-barrier packaging is particularly problematic for recyclers as, among other challenges, it is incompatible with mechanical sorting techniques. Because of this, each year packaging comprised of multi-material plastics causes one million tons of waste in Europe alone. Neopac’s push for mono-material tubes is supposed to employ sound packaging science to align with current recycling practices and processes—all while providing its cosmetics, food, and pharma customers with barrier properties to protect sensitive products.
Slated for market launch later this year, the company’s portfolio of tubes, called Polyfoil MMB (mono-material barrier) will be almost entirely polyethylene (PE) based, containing less that 5% of foreign materials (inks, adhesives, etc.) to avoid disruptions in existing recycling processes. Neopac is aiming to spearhead the application of innovative barrier technologies, including PE barrier films (MDO), thin film ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) layers, barrier lacquers, and ceramic barrier films.
In addition to product protection, the Polyfoil MMB tubes will be designed to offer broader options for appealing aesthetics. Notably, the tubes will be made to incorporate metallized tube body options owing to an ultra-thin “sandwich layer” that, in terms of recyclability, is widely accepted. White and transparent versions also will be available. Due to the reduced overall wall thickness, the lightweight tubes should offer as much as 40% tube body weight reduction compared to standard Polyfoil tubes with aluminum barriers—while keeping very similar haptics.
Neopac also is currently conducting tests to convert caps from PP to PE, which is another goal being explored for the near future.
“The push for enhanced recyclability is undeniable, with nearly 9 in 10 Europeans worried about the impact of plastics on the environment while only 5% of plastic materials are currently being reused,” says Martina Christiansen, director Sales Tubes Neopac. “Technology must play a role in meeting higher recycling standards, and mono-material barrier tubes will represent a sizable step forward in packaging science.”