Project Proof is part of Mondi’s commitment to the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Economy Initiative. It is focused on designing products in line with circular economy principles and has shown that it is possible to use unclean and raw post-consumer recycled content to create new flexible packaging. Mondi will now develop the prototype further to ensure it can be rolled out as a commercially viable product for its multinational FMCG customers. This will support Mondi’s work as a signatory of the New Plastics Economy Commitment to ensure a minimum of 25% of post-consumer waste is incorporated across all its flexible plastic packaging where food contact regulations allow by 2025.
Georg Kasperkovitz, CEO, Mondi Consumer Packaging, says, “We believe that working in partnership is key to finding a solution for plastic waste by driving innovation and broad systemic change throughout the plastics value chain with a focus on replacing, reducing and recycling.”
Mondi spearheaded Project Proof to examine whether it is possible to produce two new flexible plastic packaging products: a recyclable plastic for flexible packaging made with a percentage of post-consumer waste; and a form fill and seal (FFS) pouch for food applications. The goal is to replace multi-layer laminates, often found in food packaging, and therefore increasing recyclability. As the use of recycled materials and the creation of more recyclable plastics in flexible packaging increases in popularity, they will help circularity in the marketplace.
The Group’s customer-centric approach, EcoSolutions, is helping customers to achieve their sustainability goals by focusing on packaging that is sustainable by design – paper where possible, plastic when useful.
“We wanted to see what was possible with the worst input, and we were able to create a fully usable prototype,” explains Graeme Smith, Mondi Consumer Packaging’s sustainability manager. This proof-of-concept underlines the potential of what could be manufactured when better quality, pre-sorted materials are used as input. Better waste collection mechanisms and a focus on packaging designed for recycling will improve this process and help close the sustainability loop.
The second part of Project Proof focused on long-life food pouches. The standards for food applications were held to high technical specifications agreed by the participating FMCGs. The aluminum barrier often found in food-standard plastic packaging can extend shelf life, but it creates problems in recycling. Project Proof created an opportunity for FMCG’s to re-evaluate and possibly reduce the specifications for certain requirements allowing more sustainable materials to be used.
There are already materials being tested based on a mono-material construction without problematic layers such as aluminum, which would make recycling possible in existing waste-streams. It was concluded that further development in this area was required as current offerings did not achieve the basic minimum specifications set by the brand owners. Joint Development Agreements are being discussed for future research opportunities in this area.