Miami — Calling it a breakthrough, Dow Chemical Co. has cracked the code to recycling certain multi-layer pouches that would otherwise typically be thrown away.
The company's new RecycleReady technology works for one particular type of pouch design, but Lamy Chopin, global development leader for packaging and specialty plastics at Dow, expects this to be the basis for a long line of new pouch recycling developments.
With RecycleReady, Dow uses its Retain brand of compatibilizer to allow polyethylene and ethylene vinyl alcohol to be reprocessed together to create a useful recycled film.
This popular combination of PE and EVOH — until now — has given recyclers headaches because the EVOH barrier layer sandwiched between PE layers essentially gummed up when reprocessed, causing holes to develop in the recycled PE film.
“It's a huge deal. It's a game changer for them. It's never been done before. It's kind of like the Holy Grail. If we can have everything, have the barrier properties and even have the recycling, that would be awesome. What it does is it serves a lot of different people in the value chain,” said Stacy Fields, North American director of packaging solutions for packaging and specialty plastics at Dow.
“For the converter, we've given them options to have an offering now that meets a sustainability claim for themselves and even for the brand owner or retailer. For the recycler, we've given them now a recipe that's already self-made. They don't have to do anything additional. They just get it and process it,” Fields said.
“It also gives the customer an option where they can also participate in the recycling program,” he said at the Global Pouch Forum in Miami.
Dow originally developed Retain to help post-industrial recyclers reuse their PE and EVOH film, dosing it in with scrap material to allow EVOH to become compatible with PE during recycling.