The 100% multi-layer recyclable pouch
We recently attended a tour of the TC Transcontinental Flexstar flexible packaging facility in Richmond, Canada to learn more about their 100% recyclable pouch made with the new barrier films that can be recycled within the plastic bags/film/wrap category. This means that in the future, you will be able to take this packaging to the depot or back to the store drop off.
TC Transcontinental Packaging, along with Dow, a supplier of resins, the raw materials used to make RecycleReady barrier films, and Charter NEX Films have developed their first commercialized multi-layer recyclable pouch for Harney & Sons Fine Teas.
Challenges and Opportunities
Of course, with anything new there are challenges to bringing this technology to market. General Manager, Marc Bray, explained that these films preform differently on their equipment. In order to gain efficiencies and lower operational costs, they require significant volume with which to work. The same applies to their customer’s packaging processes so adopting to these new films can be a costly endeavour.
Another hurdle is the lower clarity of the films. Because of their unique properties, the film is not as clear as mainstream materials on the market so packages with RecycleReady Technology can appear cloudy.
Missing Systems in the Recycle Waste Stream
While this new and exciting technology affords the opportunity to readily recycle the materials there is still a challenge in the recycling waste stream and how these post-consumer materials are handled in the material recovery facilities (MRFs). While these packages may be fully recyclable with the polyethylene bags and films, how can the MRFs distinguish them from the multi-layer packages that are not recyclable? Until systems are in place to deal with this challenge and consumers are aware of which stream to place their waste, the materials will remain RecycleReady rather than simply recyclable.
Fortunately, early adopters, like Harney & Sons, who are passionate about the environment will see this as an opportunity to be leaders in bringing these new materials to market in a cost-effective manner.
Progressive major brand owners who put the environment first will recognize the value in supplying recyclable multi-layer flexible packaging which will move to these valuable materials into the mainstream. This will allow industry to capture and recycle higher volumes of post consumer waste for reuse back into packaging and other products. As volume grows, pricing will come down and machine efficiencies will improve.