Vienna-based packaging firm Mondi Group has completed a project to create a proof-of-concept prototype flexible plastic pouch incorporating at least 20% post-consumer recycled plastic waste.
Initiated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and led by Mondi, Project Proof sourced its post-consumer materials from mixed household waste to produce the pouch for household products such as detergent.
In a 5 June statement, Mondi said it will now develop the prototype further to ensure it can be rolled out as a commercially viable product for its FMCG customers.
The move is part of Mondi’s commitment to the EMF's New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which saw the company pledging to incorporate a minimum of 25% of post-consumer waste across all its flexible plastic packaging by 2025.
Mondi spearheaded Project Proof to examine whether it is possible to produce two new flexible plastic packaging products: a recyclable plastic for flexible packaging made with a percentage of post-consumer waste; and a form fill and seal (FFS) pouch for food applications.
The first phase of the project successfully produced a prototype non-food-grade flexile flexible pouch made with a minimum of 20% plastic recycled from post-consumer waste.
The origins of the post-consumer waste used were considered “the worst-case of uncleaned and unprocessed material possible,” Mondi said.
After washing and sorting using a variety of technologies, the result was a recycled polymer resin, suitable for producing flexible packaging.
The polymer was processed into a final prototype, a fully usable stand-up pouch.
According to Mondi, the pouch has “excellent construction, seal strength and zipper integrity.”
The appearance of the pouch is similar to recycled paper, with the mixed plastic material creating little flecks of inconsistent colouring.
“We wanted to see what was possible with the worst input, and we were able to create a fully usable prototype” explained Graeme Smith, Mondi consumer packaging’s sustainability manager.
The second part of Project Proof focused on long-life food pouches.
The standards for food applications, said Mondi, were held to high technical specifications agreed by the participating FMCGs.
“The aluminium barrier often found in food-standard plastic packaging can extend shelf-life, but creates problems in recycling. Project Proof created an opportunity for FMCG’s to re-evaluate and possibly reduce the specifications for certain requirements allowing more sustainable materials to be used,” Mondi added.
According to the packaging firm, it was concluded that further development in this area was required as current offerings did not achieve the basic minimum specifications set by the brand owners.
The company is considering development agreements for future research opportunities in this area.