Nova Chemicals Corp. says it has developed a flexible film structure that provides an oxygen barrier and yet is easily recyclable.
The plastic resins major announced June 14 that the new film structure could replace other structures that provide oxygen barrier in packaging meat, cheese, nuts and a host of other foods. Nova claims films with the new structure can be recycled with other high density polyethylene films such as those used for retail bags.
Nova food packaging market manager Mike Cappelli said the new film structure could replace barrier films that rely on ethylene/vinyl alcohol and/or nylon. Or EVOH and nylon could be used in greatly reduced amounts to provide premium protection.
Cappelli said in a phone interview that the film structure includes an undisclosed, already-available Nova PE resin that has been a standard for stiffness and a certain amount of barrier property. The new structure can be made in conventional, multilayer blown film lines and then converted into pouches and other flexible packaging, he said. The structure does not comprise "an extraordinary number of layers."
Cappelli stressed the newly structured film is cost-competitive with conventional barrier films.
"The response has been tremendous among food companies," Cappelli told Plastics News. "There is a need in the market for this."
Consumers can drop off HDPE retail bags for recycling at many retail stores but they couldn't add conventional pouches and barrier packaging to the stream because of incompatibility between resins. The new film structure will allow such recycling. And if small amounts of nylon or EVOH are also used in the new structure, the small quantities would not detract from recycling, according to Cappelli.
Nova hopes adoption of the new film will expand the How2Recycle program in which flexible packaging carries the in-store drop-off label.
Nova Chemicals is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and has performed film testing with an outside tester.
Nova has filed a patent for the film structure. It does not plan to license the technology. It will work with film producers and their customers to develop applications as a way of promoting its PE resins. Research was done at Nova's Calgary, Alberta, Centre for Performance Applications, recently modernized to include an Effytec horizontal form-fill-seal pouch maker to allow customers to make prototype pouches for testing on-site.
"This is a win for customers, the industry and the environment," Cappelli said.