Breakthrough recyclable film technology developed by Amcor
Amcor has made the commitment, becoming the only global packaging company pledging to develop all of its packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2025.
One of the biggest packaging juggernauts when it comes to recycling has always been multi-material film—especially in high-barrier or retort applications. After three years of research and development, however, Amcor has developed a film platform that can be recycled while being able to handle ambient medium-barrier, ambient high-barrier, and retort high-barrier applications.
Says Luca Zerbini, Vice President of Marketing, Innovation, and Sustainability for Amcor Flexibles EMEA, “We see a lot of our competitors going to market with very specific, medium- to low-barrier solutions or types of applications. What we have done is create a film that can be used in many different applications. It has the potential to convert a big chunk of the packaging out there into a structure that is compatible with existing and emerging recycling schemes.”
The new film platform is an evolution of Amcor’s AmLite metal-free flexible packaging technology. “First we took the metal out from the structure, and now we are also taking out the PET, so that the entire structure is a polyolefin-based material,” explains Zerbini. At Amcor’s silicon oxide vacuum facility in Switzerland—the only one of its kind in Europe—a layer of silicon oxide is deposited on a polyolefin film, along with whatever coating is required to meet the functional needs of the application.
According to Zerbini, the film will be polypropylene-based; future developments are aiming to target polyethylene as well. “The point is, the film can be adjusted to the needs of each customer application,” he says. “We have built the engine, now we’re working with customers to develop the kinds of specific structures they need.”
Among the products that can be packaged utilizing the new film platform are wet pet food, ambient ready meals, snacks, nuts, confectionery, coffee, and even yogurt. As Zerbini emphasizes, the “most breakthrough” aspect of the technology is its ability to handle retort applications. The retortable grade offers barrier performances of <1g of moisture after pouch converting and retort—numbers that Amcor says align with the top-performing non-recyclable barrier films currently on the market, for example, PET barrier films. The figures for the ambient high-performance grade are below 0.1 cc oxygen and 0.1 g moisture.
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