Innovation stands as our best ally in the global challenge against plastic waste. Polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) have emerged as a game-changing technology, offering a pathway towards simpler, recyclable mono-material packaging.
PU dispersion not only meets environmental demands, but also upholds the performance and protection expected of traditional packaging. Discover how products from allnex ECOWISE™ CHOICE range can offer innovative sustainable packaging solutions with excellent barrier properties.
The scope of the plastic waste problem
400 million tones
of plastic are produced globally each year
~4 million t
cf flexible packaging in EU alone
~ 1 million t
considered to be non-recyclable
Plastic waste has evolved into a significant global concern in the 21st century. The magnitude of the challenge is clear, with an annual production of approximately 400 million tons of plastics worldwide. Europe alone produces roughly 4 million tons of flexible packaging, a quarter of which is deemed non-recyclable. A mere 18% of this plastic waste enters the recycling stream. This low recovery rate has led to a substantial accumulation of plastic waste.
The future of plastic waste management
The current growth rates in recycling are not promising. Projections suggest that even by 2050, we will only achieve a 46% global recycling rate. This rate falls short of the carbon-neutral targets set by numerous organizations and governments worldwide. With recycling rates reaching a plateau at around 80%, further improvement becomes a challenging endeavor.
One way to address plastic waste is by increasing consumer awareness. Heightened understanding of environmental issues has prompted end-users, brand owners, packaging designers and converters to adapt their products and practices. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also play a crucial role in educating consumers about the global impact of plastic waste.
Circular economy initiatives
Industry and non-governmental organisation (NGO) led initiatives have emerged to promote a circular economy and tackle plastic waste. The aim of initiatives such as Packaging Recovery Organizations (PRO) is to ensure the reuse, recycling and reduction of packaging waste by developing more sustainable packaging solutions. CEFLEX is a collaborative industry initiative that aims to redesign packaging to improve its recyclability and create a circular economy for plastic packaging.
Governments worldwide are stepping up to the challenge by implementing taxes and regulations that limit the production and distribution of certain plastic products. Companies must consider these legislative changes when designing and producing packaging materials. Specific regulatory measures such as the EU Green Deal, UK Packaging Tax, and Swiss VOC Tax each have a unique impact on plastic waste management and sustainable packaging design.
Raw material considerations
The availability and environmental impact of raw materials play a critical role in addressing the plastic waste issue. The ongoing global crisis has affected the supply of these materials. New sources of raw materials are being explored, such as bio-based, renewable and recycled materials. Bio-based raw materials present a more sustainable alternative but do not guarantee the recyclability of packaging. Additionally, the challenges of incorporating recycled waste streams into packaging materials lie in determining the appropriate use cases and whether downcycling is necessary.
Addressing the plastic waste challenge requires a commitment to circularity in the value chain, where materials are reused in the same applications rather than being downcycled. This approach includes strategies like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which incentivizes the industry to adopt sustainable practices. The goal is to create an ecosystem where design, collection and recycling are integrated, leading to a more sustainable future.
Maintaining the functional requirements of flexible packaging is a requirement for the packaging industry’s move towards a circular economy.
Figure 5: Functional requirements of flexible packaging
Currently, multi-substrate layers consisting of different types of plastics are used to provide mechanical resistance and barrier properties.
These layers need to preserve nutrition, taste, and consistency of the packaged products while keeping out water, sunlight (UV), and air pollutants. allnex technology offers innovative solutions for sustainable packaging materials while maintaining performance and protection properties. This contribution is crucial in the development of more eco-friendly and circular packaging solutions that align with consumer demands, retailers, and regulatory bodies.
Polyurethane dispersion for mono-material packaging
The latest developments within the ECOWISE™ CHOICE range by allnex stands as a beacon of sustainable packaging design. Polyurethane Dispersions (PUDs) offer a range of features and benefits.
Very good adhesion to different types of plastics
Oxygen and moisture barrier properties
Flexible, crack-free film formation
VOC-free due to unique production process w/o solvents
Structure simplification (less material) for recyclability
Reduction of the use of virgin raw materials
Protect printed and/or vacuum deposition layers
Good optical properties for transparent or printed films
Suitable for sterilisation and replacing PET
No delamination during vacuum sealing
Prevent migration into packed content
Do not contain SVHCs
allnex polyurethane dispersions (PUDs)
The concept of mono-material packaging is gaining ground in the pursuit of a circular economy.
Mono – Material packaging
Figure 7: Concept of mono-material packaging
This design strategy involves creating packaging materials from a single type of material, vastly simplifying the recycling process. allnex’s PU Dispersions are instrumental in facilitating this shift. By replacing various barrier coatings found in multi-substrate packaging, PUDs enable the creation of mono-material packaging without sacrificing the functional requirements of flexible packaging.
DAOTAN® TW 6450/30WA
Eco-Friendly for Diverse Applications
Excellent adhesion to plastic substrates
Suitable for lamination adhesive applications
Pharmaceutical and food packaging
Originally developed for automotive basecoats, our ECOWISE™ CHOICE CHOICE water-borne polyurethane dispersion DAOTAN TW 6450/30WA shows outstanding properties such as excellent elasticity, moisture barrier and very good adhesion to a broad range of plastics and metallized substrates, what makes it suitable for blister and packaging lamination.
Our ECOWISE™ CHOICE water-borne polyurethane dispersion DAOTAN TW 7000/40WA combines high shear resitance and flexibility. It provides besides excellent adhesion to plastics and metallized substrates also water and chemical resitance. Due to very good pigment compatibility it can be used as ink(jet) binder and its oxygen barrier property makes it suitable for packaging lamination and coatings.
Through innovative technologies like Polyurethane Dispersions (PUDs), allnex is driving a shift towards sustainable, efficient and recyclable packaging. We are committed to leading this change, aligning with the principles of the circular economy and offering solutions that meet the functional requirements of packaging.
DAOTAN® TW 6450/30WA and DAOTAN® TW 7000/40WA are water-based polyurethane dispersions developed by allnex. They can be used as coatings or adhesives in packaging, enabling the creation of mono-material packaging designs that are easier to recycle. They offer low to zero VOC and solvent free sustainable packaging solutions.
The ECOWISE™ CHOICE range signifies allnex’s sustainable products that minimize environmental impact while maintaining performance. They meet the most stringent global industry standards and ecolabels. The ECOWISE™ CHOICE portfolio is part of allnex’s commitment to delivering outstanding combined value for their customers, society and the environment. allnex aims to contribute to a more sustainable future …to Be ECOWISE™ together.
The following article is from a webinar between Daria Samonova (Corporate communications manager, allnex), Andreas Jansen (International Project Manager for Adhesives & Lamination, allnex) and Tom Vanheertum (Marketing Manager, allnex). For the full presentation, please see the video above.
What is your challenge? We have your solution!
Expert for ECOWISE™ CHOICE product portfolio
Tejaswini manages the ECOWISE™ CHOICE portfolio within the allnex sustainability leadership team. Today she is here to help you.
Over 14 years of experience in marketing, corporate sustainability and strategy
Corporate Sustainability and Innovation (Certificate)