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Development of de-inkable, recyclable* mono-material PE-pouch with barrier properties

In a breakthrough development, a fully recyclable* mono-material PE pouch has been created that has similar properties to barely recyclable multi-material laminated pouches. The new pouches utilize the latest polymers, inks, functional coatings, adhesives and conversion technology and were the product of a unique value chain collaboration of ExxonMobil, Henkel, Kraus Folie, Siegwerk and Windmöller & Hölscher.

The innovation allows for pouches that provide a high oxygen barrier, outstanding package integrity and excellent shelf-appeal, and produces an almost colorless recyclate after the removal of printing ink and the oxygen-barrier coating layer.

The fully recyclable mono-material PE pouch has similar properties to multi-material laminated pouches that are hard to recycle.

Delamination and Deinking

In order to produce a colorless recyclate, the delamination and removal of the printing ink and coating from the laminate structure is crucial. To this end, Siegwerk´s delamination/deinking primer technology was applied on a Windmöller & Hölscher MIRAFLEX II, a flexo printing press with a downstream unit.

Depending on the requirements either solvent- (SB) or water-based (WB) primer from Siegwerk´s CIRKIT® ClearPrime product range are available. Applying industrial hot-washing conditions enables delamination and deinking of the pouch, giving an almost colorless recyclate.

Print structure – The result of collaboration across the value chain, the innovative pouches combine multiple innovative materials to provide a recyclable solution.

High Oxygen Barrier

Excellent oxygen barrier properties had been achieved through the use of Loctite® Liofol BC 1582 RE, a recently introduced 1-component barrier coating from Henkel, and CIRKIT® OxyBar BC 1582 from Siegwerk. The coating can be applied on both flexo and gravure presses at industrial machine speeds on various substrates, giving excellent transparency. Its compatibility with recycling has been confirmed by Cyclos HTP and it also meets Critical Guidance by American Plastic Recyclers (APR).

To match these requirements, appropriate colored and white inks from Siegwerk were used.

Flakes of delaminated and deinked pouch – After delamination and removal of the printing ink and coating from the laminate structure, a colorless recyclate can be produced.

Laminating Adhesive

To improve recyclability, the partners used Henkel’s new solvent-free, 2-component polyurethane laminating adhesive, LOCTITE® LIOFOL LA 7102 RE / 6902 RE. The system has been designed for mono-material structures and been recognized for its compatibility with recycling as certified by RecyClass.


Package Integrity

Outstanding packaging integrity is achieved using ExxonMobil’s latest generation of performance polyethylene such as Exceed™ S and Exceed™ XP, in combination with Exact™ materials in the sealant layer. The MDO-PE films had been developed by ExxonMobil and Kraus Folie, employing ExxonMobil HDPE and Enable™ performance polyethylene, and produced on their VAREX II extrusion line with inline MDO unit.

MIRAFLEX II with Inliner

Shelf Appeal

High primer transparency combined with consistent print quality and the inherent gloss of the ExxonMobil PE-based MDO film helps to deliver an excellent shelf appeal of the final pouch. Deinking primer, print image and barrier coating had been applied in one step using a Windmöller & Hölscher MIRAFLEX II with a downstream unit.

*The terms ”recyclable” and “recyclability” as used throughout this press release are intended to refer to the potential for recyclability of full PE solutions designed and manufactured in accordance with recycling guidelines such as PRE RecyClass. Ultimate recyclability of full PE packaging will depend on a number of factors outside of the partners´ (W&H / ExxonMobil / Henkel / Siegwerk / Kraus) control including, but not limited to, availability of programs and facilities that collect and recycle plastic packaging within a given community. Any and all claims about the recyclability of full PE-packaging are the sole responsibility of the packaging manufacturer.