Film Process

Vita Nova

Curve

Collaboration to achieve circular economy

Searious Business is working with BOPET Films Europe to establish a consortium of industry players which promotes the use of mono-PET flexible packaging. The consortium welcomes players from throughout the industry including producers, sorters, recyclers, machine manufacturers and brand owners.

 

 

The new consortium is called Vita Nova, the Latin for “new life”, which is exactly what the group aims to give to flexible PET packaging.

By leveraging knowledge and expertise across the industry, the Vita Nova consortium will be able to deliver valuable results that improve the recyclability of flexible packaging in Europe, and develop a true closed loop for this material

BOPET Films Europe vice chair Michael Kreuter commented,

“We cannot achieve these goals in isolation, and through this Vita Nova initiative we hope to pull together knowledge from across the value chain to improve the circularity of flexible packaging

Leaders of Change

In the next 12 months, the Vita Nova consortium aims to deliver

  • Material redesign options moving from mixed plastics to mono-PET

  • Quality sorting guidelines

  • Recycling pathway for PET films (considering both mechanical and monomer recycling)

  • Design for recycling guidelines for mono-PET packaging

  • Research viable end markets for mechanically recycled flexible PET and prove a closed loop recycling process for monomer recycling

Challenges

Like the majority of flexible packaging, PET-films are not currently sorted or recycled in Europe at scale. Virtually all flexible packaging is sent for incineration. Vita Nova aims to address this.

Why focus on mono-PET flexible packaging?

PET films are the only commercially available option for the use of food contact approved recycled content and therefore are a key element of delivering on the sustainability goals of the industry.

The benefits of PET films include:

  • Commercially available with high levels of food contact approved recycled content

  • Inherent stiffness and stable temperature range which enable high speed packing processes

  • Strong odour barrier, preserving flavours and preventing cross-contamination

  • Ideal substrate for functional barrier layers due to its stiffness, flatness and stable response to temperature

  • Ease of ink adherence making it the printers’ choice of substrate

  • Better suited for mechanical recycling due to its inherent resistance to contamination and ability to maintain material properties over repeated extrusion cycles

Currently at least 25% of all flexible packaging applications rely on the material properties provided by PET. Most packaging uses a combination of different materials to achieve the desired technical properties. Packaging using several types of plastic is difficult to recycle, and so switching to a mono-material improves the recyclability. Switching to a polyolefin alternative will lead to an increase in material usage and a drop in packing efficiency without improving the end of life outcome for the packaging.

Mono PET packaging structures have the potential to deliver on all 4 European Plastic Pact targets and enable retailers and brand owners to meet their sustainability pledges. Notably, when using recycled content in flexible packaging used for food applications, PET films are the only current viable option.

Packaging using mono-PET would open up the option of monomer recycling, which is a lower cost and lower carbon form of chemical recycling, with a more realistic possibility of closed loop recycling of flexible packaging waste into new packaging products. Therefore, replacing mixed plastic flexible packaging with mono-PET solutions would enable better recyclability, improve resource-efficiency and lead to greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Find out more

For more information about joining the Vita Nova initiative, please contact Rosemarie Wuite: rosemarie@seariousbusiness.com