Finnish plastics company Huhtamaki is aiming to the lead the way on single polymer fleixble packaging, with its new blueloop range
Food and drinks packaging producer Huhtamaki has announced it will launch a new range of recyclable flexible packaging.
The Finnish firm’s new range of plastics, called Huhtamaki blueloop, is made from mono-material polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE).
This new innovation involves polyolefin structures which will be used to pack coffee, snacks, dry food, personal care and other fast-moving consumer products.
The company will also develop paper-based solutions to replace plastic packaging.
Huhtamaki executive vice-president Olli Koponen said: “We are committed to offering recyclable solutions for all our flexible packaging product categories.
“Today, we have solutions available for several key categories and we will launch solutions for our most demanding applications soon.
“Huhtamaki blueloop builds on our strong global expertise and experience in flexible packaging manufacturing.
“We bring the solutions to market by working closely with our suppliers and customers.”
What is a mono-material?
One way that Huhtamaki hopes to make its products more recyclable is by producing plastic packaging using mono-materials – which only use one type of polymer to create a product.
During the recycling process, plastics are granulated into a substance known as a “flake”, which is then sorted into different polymer streams.
Once separated, the flakes go through a process whereby the materials are heated, processed through a machine, cooled and chopped into pellets – which are then sold to create new products.
Circular economy charity the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) says that when products have more than one polymer, it makes it more difficult to recycle.
In a 2018 report titled Rigid plastic packaging: Design tips for recycling, it said: “Mixed plastic types are more difficult to separate and will cause problems with reprocessing.
“If PE is processed with PET, for example, the lower melt point will cause imperfections in the finished product.”
Why Huhtamaki is creating flexible packaging
Huhtamaki hopes the new design will allow its flexible packaging to become a better asset for the circular economy.
The firm is one of the many plastics businesses that has signed up to a Europe-wide organisation called A Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX).
CEFLEX is a consortium of companies and associations involved in flexible packaging, which also includes Australian plastics giant Amcor and American oil and gas company ExxonMobil.
It aims to design and develop the performance of this packaging in a circular economy, which involves designing materials with the purpose of reusing them.
The association plans to have a comprehensive sustainability and circular economy roadmap by 2020, and a set of design guidelines as well as an established collection, sorting and reprocessing infrastructure by 2025.
Huhtamaki hopes this will help to close the loop by bringing these recyclable packaging products to the market.
The company’s sustainability and strategic innovation director Michael Hahl said: “For Huhtamaki, blueloop is more than a product range, it is a learning and development platform.
“Collaboration is key. We engage with the full supply chain from resin providers to our customers and recyclers.
“Our closest focus is on product design and manufacturing.
“However, collecting, sorting and reusing the recycled material are all part of the blueloop perspective.”