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Insight into the mechanical recycling of PE/PA multilayer films

Insight into the mechanical recycling of PE/PA multilayer films

Articles

Why is this topic important?

Due to the currently very pronounced focus on the mechanical recycling of packaging waste from households and here on the so-called "monomaterials" desired by the recycling industry and politics, the advantages of polyamides for high-performance and flexible packaging are being pushed into the background. Certain criteria, such as the reduction of the used plastic due to lower material thicknesses ("downgauging"), the associated reduction in plastic waste volumes or the improved utilization of foodstuffs due to extended shelf life in barrier packaging with polyamide, are not adequately taken into account. Yet these criteria play an important role when it comes to supplying food to a continuously growing world population and reducing packaging waste and food wastage.

Tests and certification

In a new publication, BASF and Institute cyclos-HTP reveals details of the mechanical recycling of coextruded flexible packaging films containing polyamides (PE/PA multilayer films). The independent testing and certification body cyclos-HTP systematically investigated the recyclability of PE/PA multilayer films on behalf of BASF and confirmed it in June 2021. The results and conclusions of these investigations are now available in a 25-page publication on the websites of BASF and cyclos-HTP.

In the tests, coextruded PE/PA multilayer films with PA6 and PA6/6.6 concentrations of up to 30 percent were used with tie layer materials. Based on the established CHI standard, cyclos-HTP tested the recycling compatibility and recyclability of these films in the PE film stream from commercial sorting processes for household flexible plastic packaging waste.

cyclos-HTP GmbH has proven and certified the recyclability of polyamide 6 (PA6, Ultramid® B) as well as Polyamide 6/6.6 (PA6/6.6, Ultramid® C) in coextruded polyethylene (PE)/PA6-multilayer film structures for the PE film stream. This was analyzed for PA contents of up to 30 percent in the original packaging based practice-relevant conditions. This result is intended to form the basis for a review of the classification of Polyamides in coextruded PE/PA multilayer film structures in the “Minimum standard for determining the recyclability of packaging subject to system participation pursuant to section 21 (3) VerpackG (Verpackungsgesetz – German Packaging Act)” of the Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register).

cyclos-HTP is already using these updated results for the differentiated certification of the recyclability of individual flexible PE/PA packaging structures by performing case-by-case reviews of packaging structures that were previously classified as incompatible for recycling (according to section 4.3 of the minimum standard for determining the recyclability of packaging subject to system participation pursuant to section 21 (3) VerpackG, Central Agency Packaging Register, 2021).

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