Changes to EU waste regulations mean changes to packaging
A possible solution for the 2014 waste regulations are new compostable laminate packs.
European waste regulation
Sappi Fine Paper Europe
By 2014, a new EU Packaging Directive is set to come into effect which will place the responsibility for ensuring that ‘packaging is not excessive for the purpose intended and is suitable for recycling, energy recovery or composting’ firmly with the packaging producer.
The emphasis is that waste minimization and recovery should be built into the package at its design stage to ensure resource efficiencies as well as protecting products.
Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union claim waste plastics packaging material in the EU15, increased from 9.9 million tonnes in 1998 to 13.1 million tonnes in 2008 representing an increase in share from 17.9 per cent to 21.6 per cent. Of this, 40 per cent of municipal waste was land-filled, 20 per cent incinerated, and only 23 per cent recycled and 17 per cent composted.
In theory, packaging is recycled if it can be collected, transported and cleaned using less energy and resources than would be used to make virgin raw materials.
However, packaging made from thin layers of mixed materials or plastic film is very difficult to recycle. While there have been some technological processes developed to attempt to recycle more, but these are a limited resource meaning that the most popular method of disposal of laminated packaging formats remains incineration.
Incineration isn’t necessarily a poor choice, as it is possible to get some energy value from this type of packaging even though it is essentially burning materials made from a finite raw material resource.
Innovia Films and Sappi Fine Paper Europe are looking at end-of-life options for flexible laminates—specifically either industrial/home composting or ultimately anaerobic digestion which turns waste into a useful energy source.
By combining their separate compostable substrates, Innovia Films’ NatureFlex and Sappi’s Algro Nature they could offer the packaging industry an alternative combining traditional technical properties and equivalent packaging performance.
Sappi business development manager Antoine de Forton says, “Many European countries have realized that home composting is a viable opportunity for managing some of the domestic household waste stream. It empowers home owners to take responsibility for their own degradable waste.
“Packs made from compostable packaging such as the Innovia Films and Sappi solution makes this task much easier,” he states.
Both NatureFlex and Algro Nature are manufactured from renewable resources, wood sourced from managed forests. These cellulose-based products have been fully-tested and independently certified to be compostable in home and industrial environments and are DIN E13432-certificated, as well as approved for food contact.
Innovia Films offers a range of NatureFlex flexible packaging films that provide a moisture barrier that can be tailored to meet the requirements of the product to be packed and an excellent gas barrier. It also offers enhanced print and conversion capability as well as high seal integrity, and its inherent anti-static and thermal stability aids the lamination process to Sappi’s flexible packaging papers and other biopolymers for more complex laminate structures.
Sappi has used its expertise in manufacturing flexible packaging papers to become, it says, the first and only paper producer to offer home compostable papers for packaging.
Algro Nature is a one-side coated, glossy paper and Leine Nature is its uncoated equivalent, with both offering the advantage of using vegetable-based coating ingredients instead of a traditional paper/oil-based materials, which reduces the papers’ environmental impact and carbon footprint.
Available in weights of between 40g/m2 and 80 g/m2 these paper can be used in such applications as confectionery or snack wrappers, soup pouches, sugar sachets, pharmaceutical sachets, and more – and any packaging using these papers will meet the EU Packaging Directive.