SWEDEN – Swiss packaging machinery provider Bobst has announced a strategic partnership for a closed-loop of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) based multilayer laminates used for thermoformed food trays.

Under the European Green Deal policy, all packaging are required to be reusable or recyclable by 2030.

The regulation challenges multilayer packaging since its layers first need to be separated before entering recycling streams

With an aim of finding a solution, Bobst has collaborated with barrier film consultant Evertis and industrial adhesives specialist BASF to support recycling company Sulayr.

The new partners will combine their knowledge of the packaging value chain in their approach to the closed-loop recycling of PET-based laminates.

Sulayr has commercialized a multilayer recycling process that achieves closed-loop status and allows PET to be reused with ‘virtually zero waste’.

This process is based on a multilayer film produced by Evertis, which includes PET and polyethylene (PE) layers laminated on a Bobst coating system using BASF Epotal water-based adhesive.

Sulayr has been able to separate different types of multilayers since 2009, but the speed and cost-effectiveness of the process depend on the debonding of the films.

“Our technologies enable us to delaminate most types of PET-containing multilayers and bring the recycled PET back to the industry,” said Miguel Ángel Arena, CEO of Sulayr.

“With BASF’s water-based Epotal® adhesives, for example, our separation process is simplified, because the adhesive allows a quick and easy separation with a high quality of the recyclates which is not the case with solvent-based adhesives for example.”

The multilayer films can be used for a number of packaging applications such as thermo-formed food trays.

After they are used, the waste is delivered to sorting facilities and can then be used as raw material in a closed-loop cycle.

The four partners emphasize that collaboration, as well as innovative technology, is key to the success of the process.

Bobst said in a statement: “While a circular economy practice for packaging materials with PET content already exists, the process can be improved to become more practical and effective if the whole value chain works together to make separation of layers easier.

Seen as a key step towards universal recycling of PET, enabling its continued use in a Green Deal-compliant packaging economy, the process can apply to both post-consumer and post-industrial waste, meaning it has enormous potential to transform the entire PET-based packaging use model.”

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