Illig Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of thermoforming machines and tools, has developed new technologies to meet customers' needs for designing recyclable packaging.
With new regulations coming from Europe and other regions around the world, more innovation is required to ensure responsible end-of-life options for all sorts of packages, Conor Carlin, managing director of the company's North American subsidiary, Illig LP, said.
"The use of monomaterials is encouraged, while multilayer materials or difficult-to-recycle materials are discouraged, and sometimes taxed, as in France's new packaging laws," Carlin said.
"Having the ability to easily separate materials is critical for recyclers and material recovery facilities (MRFs) so that they can generate profitable, valuable bales for secondary markets," he said in an interview prior to K 2019.
To that end, Heilbronn, Germany-based Illig is out with a plastic-cardboard package in which both sides of the cardboard can be brilliantly decorated, the amount of plastic used is reduced and sorting is simplified for recycling at home or MRFs.
Developed with the circular economy in mind, the dual-material packaging can be produced on existing Illig thermoforming systems equipped with an in-mold labeling (IML) unit. A tool set with the required packaging design is all that's required.
The IML automation is capable of handling plastic, paper and cardboard labels, and, in theory, any plastic that can be thermoformed can be used, Carlin said.
"So far, we have worked with PET and cardboard, though we have also proven polypropylene and polystyrene substrates for other types of labels," he added.
Another Illig innovaton is its new thermoforming system, IC-RDKL 80, which produces decorated lids made from recycled PET to complement decorated containers also made of recycled PET.
"We think there will be both market-pull and industry-push elements to the demand," Carlin said.