Mondi Flexible Packaging “Leapfrogs” Ahead in the Recycling Game - Papermart
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Mondi Flexible Packaging “Leapfrogs” Ahead in the Recycling Game

After almost four years of development, Mondi and Werner & Mertz will introduce a new, patented innovation in 2019: a 100-percent recyclable pouch with detachable decorative panels. The pouch replaces conventional flexible packaging for Frosch products.

The pioneering design overcomes many shortcomings of the recycling process and is the result of a joint effort by Werner & Mertz, Mondi, EPEA Switzerland (Cradle to Cradle®), Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland and Institut cyclos-HTP.

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In 2014 Werner & Mertz decided to develop packaging that is recyclable in the fullest sense. This was before most fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies viewed a commitment to sustainability as an indispensable building block for brand equity. Several packaging suppliers told them it could not be realised. Then they met Mondi.

The project was truly ambitious. It was not about developing flexible plastic packaging that is only theoretically recyclable – packaging likely to end up in landfill. Rather, the design aim was to “reverse-engineer” the recycling process: to create packaging fit for every stage of the recycling process.

The challenges of true recycling

A crucial and often neglected step in the recycling process is sorting. Failure to sort the collected packaging into material streams that recyclers can use leads to down-cycling – that is, the production of recycled material no longer suitable for its original application. “If you want to avoid a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ scenario,”explained Immo Sander, Head of Packaging Development, Werner & Mertz Group, “the entire value chain must be aligned – from packaging producers through players in sorting and recycling to buyers of recycled material.” This is the aim of the Recyclate Initiative that Werner & Mertz launched in 2012.

A giant leap: a pouch with detachable decorative panels

A final touch was added to solve the issue of recycling printed plastic materials. The pouch has two layers. “We dress the pouch up in an eye-catching ‘outer garment’ that is printed with brand design on the front and consumer info on the back,” said Sander. “When the pouch is empty, we ‘undress’ it automatically by shredding and sorting the two components into separate recycling streams.”

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The patented pouch is now 100-percent recyclable. The material is of course free of glue or adhesive. Spout and cap are also made of polyethylene – which means the recycled material will be equivalent in quality to the original material.

(Source: Mondi Group)