In Geleen, a consortium of companies and knowledge institutes is focusing on the development of fully recyclable sterilizable stand-up pouches for soups and sauces and other wet food products. This is unique in the world, as recycling of these pouches is not quite possible due to the multilayer materials that are being used. Brightlands Materials Center brings together participants from the entire value chain to solve this problem. The the achieved results will be shared worldwide to give other food producers access to these recyclable pouches in the future.
Recycling of food-safe packaging
Mono-material packaging—packaging consisting of one type of material—needs to be developed in order to improve recyclability. “There are already ‘PP stand-up pouches’ on the market,” says Caroli Buitenhuis, Business & Concept Developer for Circular Packaging at Brightlands Materials Center, “but in practice, they don’t meet the strict requirements to pack soups and sauces. The recycling capacity of PET is higher than the recycling capacity of food-safe PP and it is therefore interesting to explore the possibilities with regard to PET stand-up pouches.”
A world first
Harold Gankema, Program Manager for Circular Packaging at Brightlands Materials Center, explains what the consortium will do. “We’re developing a stand-up pouch entirely based on PP and another one that’s entirely based on PET. The latter is a world first; there’s never been a sterilizable stand-up pouch based on PET.”
Need for research
European targets on circularity leave brand owners and retailers with no choice but to use recyclable packaging. The recyclate should ideally be reusable for new packaging applications. However, this is not yet the case with the current stand-up pouches for wet food applications that need to be sterilized. While the current combination of different materials complies with requirements relating to shelf life, sterilizability, water vapor permeability, and oxygen permeability, it’s not recyclable. However, governments will soon start demanding a recyclable alternative.
Participants and results
The consortium starts in February 2022 and results will be presented by the end of 2023. Sharing the gained knowledge from this project with the food and packaging industry contributes to the bigger picture of a circular economy. The consortium brings together parties from the production process, retail suppliers, and knowledge institutions: raw material suppliers Indorama and SABIC, film producers DuPont Teijin Films and Oerlemans Packaging Group, brand owners and retail suppliers Greenyard Prepared and Four Seasons Food, knowledge institute Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, and research center Brightlands Materials Center.