With its new RE range that is “designed for recycling,” Henkel reports that it is introducing adhesives and coatings that both improve the recyclability of flexible packaging and make it possible to use recycled content in new packaging. Together with its partners ExxonMobil, Borealis, and Saperatec, Henkel presented its new solutions for packaging applications at the K trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. 

Multi-layer packaging is designed to meet high standards for product shelf life and protection of the products’ quality. Finding a way to recycle these packaging materials is crucial to preserving valuable resources. At the same time, this is currently one of the main challenges for existing recycling processes. Due to the use of different materials with dedicated functionalities, today’s flexible packaging is in many cases complex.

“There is a growing demand for packaging that supports recyclability and the use of recycled materials,” said Marcin Lapaj, global business development manager for Circular Economy at Henkel Adhesive Technologies. “Our approach ensures valuable resources are kept in the loop for longer and less waste is being generated. By combining efforts along the value chain, we are one step closer in enabling the desired circularity of flexible packaging for a more sustainable future.”

Henkel reports that the solvent-free adhesives and coatings of the RE range are suitable for recycling and bonding of recycled plastic films. At the same time, they give excellent results at efficient machine speed, optimal ink compatibility for high-quality printing, high initial tack and room temperature curing. This range of adhesives also improves the quality of recycling of materials in every step of the value chain.

Partnering with raw material supplier ExxonMobil, Henkel has developed full PE-laminated stand-up pouches (SUP) that can be recycled and reused to create new SUPs. The new SUP packages reportedly contain up to 30% recycled SUP content, including recycled adhesive, and offer performance that is on par with existing packaging. This solution particularly addresses the issues of the recyclability of conventional mono-material laminates, especially when it comes to maintaining the quality of the product partly made out of post-industrial recyclate.

The project with Borealis features a mono-material pouch with high recycling compatibility and up to 35% post-consumer recyclate content. Borealis and Henkel worked closely together to specifically design this packaging with recyclate as raw material and a high suitability for the recycling process after usage. This pouch is planned for use in Henkel’s range of Persil detergent powders in selected regions.

Borealis and Henkel are also working on a pilot for a full PE laminate stand-up pouch that contains both virgin and recycled ingredients with 35% post-consumer recycled low-density polyethylene (r-LDPE). The prototype is currently being developed and tested by a value chain consortium, with each partner contributing their respective expertise and experience to ensure joint success.

Henkel began working with the German startup Saperatec in 2016, with the aim of developing and enhancing customized recyclable adhesives. This collaboration led to the creation of tailor-made adhesives that are compatible with Saperatec’s technology. With a recently announced strategic investment in the company, Henkel reports that it is underscoring its role in supporting sustainable solutions that go beyond adhesives and coatings. Together with Henkel, Saperatec offers manufacturers a cost-efficient recycling technology that makes it possible to reintroduce production waste consisting of polyethylene (PE), aluminum, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into the raw material cycle, also thanks to the right adhesive design.

For more information, visit www.henkel.com, www.exxonmobilchemical.com, www.borealisgroup.com, and www.saperatec.de.