Coming unstuck: can glue that lets go solve the global packaging problem?

There are few things in life as ubiquitous as glue. It is so ever-present as to be almost invisible. Actually, most of the time, it is. It holds our furniture together, keeps nappies on babies and false eyelashes on lids. It bonds together parts of aeroplanes and cars and is used for almost every type of packaging you can think of: cardboard boxes, jar labels and all manner of plastic wrapping.

And yet, when it comes to responsibly disposing of packaging, the key property of glue – its stickiness – is its fundamental flaw. Although usually no more than 5% of the total weight of packaging, adhesives can cause challenges at the recycling stage. With the packaging recycling target at 70% in the UK for 2025 – the 2020 target was 60% – it’s vital that technologies and systems are developed to ensure these targets are met, not least by making sure that packaging is designed with recycling in mind. And that includes looking at the role of adhesives.

As consumers become increasingly aware of humankind’s environmental footprint, and pressure grows for companies to devise solutions in line with a circular economy, scientists and researchers in labs globally are taking a completely fresh look at packaging design.

Graham Houlder, project coordinator for the pan-European project Ceflex, a consortium of companies working towards the sustainable design and recycling of flexible packaging, says: “The issue with adhesives and recycling is that the chemistries of some of those adhesives can create quality issues when you recycle.”

One particular problem is that of flexible packaging, which in the UK has one of the lowest recycling rates.

So what is flexible packaging? Sadly, the type that often ends up in the bin. It’s things such as cat and baby food pouches, and toothpaste tubes – generally, anything that doesn’t spring back to its original shape when twisted or bent. This kind of packaging is likely to be made from layers of different materials held together with adhesive, making them difficult to recycle.

Houlder says that, in the past, flexible packaging was less of an issue as the UK was able to meet its recycling target without including this difficult-to-recycle packaging. “It costs more to collect, sort and recycle flexible packaging than it does a big, rigid milk bottle so, in the interests of keeping costs down, the UK decided that they wouldn’t collect and sort it,” he says.

Although many European countries do collect flexible packaging, analysis by the BBC found that only 7% of UK households could put plastic pouches out for recycling, while 73% of food tubs can be collected.

Ceflex’s goal is for there to be an established collection, sorting and reprocessing infrastructure for flexible packaging across Europe by 2025. Some of the targets set out in the UK’s circular economy package – an action plan that ensures waste and resource use are minimised, and when a product reaches the end of its life, it is used again to create further value – will mean that more of the plastic we normally throw away should go for recycling instead, although there is a lot to be done before we get there. A target of 65% of household waste recycled by 2035 has been set, while the current target stands at 50%.

So how is industry helping to prevent packaging from going to landfill? It’s all well and good to have higher recycling targets, but products must be designed so that they can be recycled.

In three years, a system called extended producer responsibility (EPR) will come into force in the UK, which will require producers of plastic to pay fees to cover its responsible disposal. Houlder hopes we’ll see a change for flexible packaging then. “When the EPR system is launched in 2023, we’re hoping flexible packaging will be collected and sorted,” he says.

So while the UK lags behind many other European countries in this regard, this gives us a small grace period to ensure that when we do introduce widespread collection of flexible packaging, it won’t be for nothing.

One company on the case is Henkel, the consumer goods business behind such household names as Schwarzkopf and Pritt, and a founding partner of Ceflex. One of its three business units centres around the development and production of adhesive technologies. “What we’re doing is establishing a set of adhesives that are optimised for recycling, both for things that have been recycled for a long time – let’s say cardboard – and also for plastics,” says Dennis Bankmann, senior manager circular economy at Henkel Consumer Goods and Packaging Adhesives.

Several of Henkel’s projects involve creating, ironically, a glue that can unstick. Houlder recalls a meeting he had with Bankmann a few years ago when such a concept was bandied around. “I said to him: ‘Why can’t you make an adhesive that, under certain conditions, just lets go and we separate the two incompatible materials in the recycling process?’ He said he’d worked for Henkel for 10 years and no packaging manufacturer had ever asked him to make an adhesive that lets go!”

But today, that is exactly what they have created. Henkel has joined up with the recycling technology startup Saperatec, which has designed a process for recycling flexible packaging that has an aluminium layer – often found in pet food pouches or bags for coffee beans. Bankmann says that in Germany, where flexible packaging is collected for recycling, typically only the aluminium portion of the packaging could be recovered, not the plastic.

Saperatec’s technology means both the aluminium and plastic layers of your coffee bean bag can be recycled, and the glue holding these layers together is optimised for this process. Effectively, it debonds so the layers can come apart. “The debonding allows you to recover more [materials],” Bankmann says. “It will really be the first commercial operation of this kind in Germany.”

The adhesives developed with Saperatec’s recycling technology in mind are part of Henkel’s RE range, adhesives designed specifically with a view to recyclability, either through their compatibility with recycling, ability to debond, or enabling innovative designs.

Henkel has also developed, as part of its EPIX technology platform, materials that function beyond bonding, used primarily with paper-based products. Henkel recently launched the EPIX mailer that does not have an inner plastic lining, and is curbside recyclable. The EPIX material provides a protective layer that allows the paper pulp to recover during recycling. Additional products from the EPIX range could also be applied to things such as paper, cups or food wraps, to replace alternatives that sometimes have a plastic layer or are plastic themselves, and therefore cannot be recycled. Functional properties of EPIX materials, including thermal insulation and barrier properties, make them an attractive swap.

Choosing a paper-based product with such functional properties, for example a paper mailer that does the same job as one lined with plastic bubble wrap, could be a smart choice in places such as the UK where paper is commonly collected for recycling. And when can we see a wider range of materials collected, specifically soft plastics? Houlder points out that in order for 65% of household waste to be recycled by 2035, flexible plastics will need to start being collected. “As the targets go up and we’re increasingly circular and trying to stop the leakage [of plastic] into nature and the ocean, you have to collect and sort flexible packaging,” he says.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Manchin is putting Biden's child tax credit on the chopping block, digging in on who should qualify

© Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP President Joe Biden. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Democrats want to extend the child tax credit as part of their social spending bill. Manchin has led a push ... Read more »

Apple's October event: New Macs, AirPods 3 and all other rumors

Although Apple revealed the iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max last month, the tech giant is already gearing up for its next event on Monday, Oct. 18 at ... Read more »

How do politicians around the world stay safe?

© Getty Images Dutch PM Mark Rutte has often been seen cycling to work meetings The killing of British MP Sir David Amess has highlighted the dilemma facing politicians worldwide. ... Read more »

Sir David Amess killing: Boris Johnson leads tributes in show of unity at scene of MP's fatal stabbing

Boris Johnson has laid flowers at the scene of the deadly stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess. The prime minister was pictured outside the church alongside Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Read more »

'Farmers Can't Wash Their Hands Off Incident': NCSC, 15 Dalit Bodies Condemn Singhu Border Lynching

© Provided by News18 ‘Farmers Can’t Wash Their Hands Off Incident’: NCSC, 15 Dalit Bodies Condemn Singhu Border Lynching Reacting strongly to the murder of a Dalit labourer at a ... Read more »

Floods inundate several parts of Kerala after heavy downpour, red alert in 5 districts

Severe waterlogging was reported in several areas of Kerala after heavy rain lashed the state, especially the south and central regions on Saturday. Many rivers were reported to be overflowing ... Read more »

Three Chinese astronauts including first woman enter space station

© Provided by Hindustan Times This screen grab by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV shows astronauts Ye Guangfu, Wang Yaping and Zhai Zhigang, the second crew for China’s new space station, ... Read more »

Earthquake in Bali kills 3 people, injures 7

© IANS Earthquake in Bali kills 3 people, injures 7 Bali, Oct 16 (IANS) Three people were killed and seven others injured with another one still buried under rubbles of ... Read more »

‘Those who have sacrificed their lives should get a place in history': Amit Shah on renaming Ross Island

© Provided by Hindustan Times Amit Shah urged youth to visit Andaman and Nicobar, referring to it as the “pilgrimage place of Independence”. (ANI ) Union home minister Amit Shah ... Read more »

"Confident" West Brom dynamo who lost possession 32x stole the show vs Birmingham - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast Townsend With Valerien Ismael’s West Bromwich Albion side heading into Friday night’s fixture having suffered their first defeat of the season last time out, the ... Read more »

All the latest Bristol City team news ahead of AFC Bournemouth clash

© Provided by Football League World Bristol City n Bristol City face arguably their toughest test of 2021/22 so far as they welcome AFC Bournemouth to Ashton Gate this afternoon.  ... Read more »

Everton left baffled by claims over invitation to fight online racism

Everton have been left baffled by suggestions in a national newspaper that they are not interested in tackling online racism. On Friday, the Guardian published an article claiming that Manchester ... Read more »

Man United FIFA 22 squad update released with Cristiano Ronaldo downgraded

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw and Mason Greenwood have all received changes to their FIFA 22 stats as part of the latest Manchester United FIFA 22 squad update. Ronaldo has enjoyed ... Read more »

Celtic handed fresh injury boost ahead of Motherwell clash, Postecoglou surely buzzing - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast Ryan Christie, Celtic, Neil Lennon, Mikey Johnston, Parkhead, SPFL, Scottish Premiership, Hoops, Bhoys, Celtic have been handed a major injury boost ahead of the Hoops’ ... Read more »

Ambani's Reliance buys stake in Bollywood stylist Manish Malhotra's fashion house

© Provided by The National Designer Manish Malhotra with Bollywood actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Arjun Kapoor. Reliance said it is planning to expand the physical presence of MM Styles following ... Read more »

Political party leaders campaigning across the country 15 days before elections

© @Action4SA/Twitter. Action SA leader Herman Mashaba hangs a poster during the launch of the party’s election campaign on 9 September 2021. JOHANNESBURG – Political party leaders are campaigning across ... Read more »

France marks 1 year since the assassination of Samuel Paty

© Provided by Paty’s killing stunned France and French educators, who have long emphasized the nation’s officially secular values French leaders planned a day of commemoration in Paris on ... Read more »

Oil set to continue rally amid growing global demand

© INA FASSBENDER The prices of petrol are displayed on a sign at a service station in Dortmund, western Germany. Oil rebounded close to multi-year peaks after the IEA lifted ... Read more »

Apple event on October 18: M1X MacBook Pro, AirPods 3 to be launched. Details here

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: On October 18, Apple’s Unleashed event begins at 10.30 p.m. IST. Apple is expected to introduce a couple of new hardware products a ... Read more »

Special working group on start-ups, India proposes in SCO meet

© Provided by The Statesman Special working group on start-ups, India proposes in SCO meet At the SCO, India has suggested the formation of a new Special Working Group on ... Read more »

Conservative MP David Amess Stabbed Multiple Times

(Photo: David Amess) Conservative MP Sir David Amess, 69, has been stabbed several times in his Southend West constituency, according to reports. Sky News reported on Friday afternoon that a ... Read more »

The trans women who support women's rights

Debbie Hayton is a trans woman who has come out in support of Professor Kathleen Stock – John Lawrence for The Telegraph “They remind me of football hooligans in the ... Read more »

HDFC Bank Q2 Result | Profit grows 17.6% to Rs 8,834 crore, net interest income rises 12%

© Rakesh Patil HDFC Bank Q2 Result | Profit grows 17.6% to Rs 8,834 crore, net interest income rises 12% HDFC Bank, the largest private sector lender in India, has ... Read more »

Salt Bae: Nusr-Et steakhouse restaurateur and meme eats three steaks a day

Salt Bae’s London restaurant has caused quite the stir in recent weeks for serving elaborate and expensive gold steaks, and catering to celebrity guests like Gemma Collins. © Getty Images ... Read more »

UFC Fight Night 195: Preview and Predictions

In what can only be described as a contribution toward fulfilling a contractual obligation to put on a certain amount of events, UFC Fight Night 195 is here. © Handout/Getty ... Read more »

Watford vs Liverpool confirmed line-ups: Team news ahead of Premier League fixture today

© Getty Images Watford have won two of their first seven Premier League games – Getty Images Liverpool were not as busy in the summer transfer market as Manchester City, ... Read more »

Waffle House employee pulls gun on a customer during a dispute over eggs, according to Atlanta police reports

© Getty Images The incident occurred at a Waffle House restaurant in Atlanta, police say. Getty Images A Waffle House employee pulled a gun on a customer over a food ... Read more »

Watford vs Liverpool LIVE: Stream FREE, TV channel, kick-off time as Trent returns for Reds in Premier League clash

WATFORD welcome Liverpool to Vicarage Road TODAY as the Premier League returns with a familiar face in the home dugout. Claudio Ranieri will take charge of the Hornets for the ... Read more »

Battle against Covid-19 not over yet, Sabahans told

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Masidi Manjun says Sabah still has a high number of daily sporadic infections, indicating some sections of the community are not observing SOPs. (Bernama ... Read more »

Discussions on post Covid recovery set to dominate Asean Summit

© Provided by New Straits Times KUANTAN: Discussions on post-Covid-19 recovery will take centre stage during the Asean Summit which will be held virtually and chaired by host Brunei at ... Read more »

Spain WRC: Neuville pulls clear of Evans on Saturday morning

© McKlein / Motorsport Images Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC The Hyundai driver delivered a faultless drive in at times tricky foggy conditions to transform ... Read more »

David Amess stabbing - latest: MPs will continue to meet constituents despite knife attack, Priti Patel says

© Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images david amess LIVE – Updated at 11:27 The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been declared a terrorist incident. The 69-year-old, ... Read more »

China renews alert for cold wave

© IANS China renews alert for cold wave Beijing, Oct 16 (IANS) China’s National Meteorological Centre (NMC) on Saturday renewed a blue alert for a cold wave, forecasting low temperatures ... Read more »

JEE Advanced 2021: Top 10 toppers, zone-wise and list-wise toppers, female toppers

JEE Advanced 2021: Top 10 toppers, zone-wise and list-wise toppers, female toppers The JEE Advanced 2021 result was announced on October 15 and Mridul Agarwal from the IIT Delhi zone ... Read more »

BJP plans PM Modi's massive rally in Varanasi ahead for 2022 Uttar Pradesh polls

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to organise a massive rally to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Uttar Pradesh`s ... Read more »

Next Congress president likely to be elected by September 2022

As the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met for a vital meeting on Saturday, highly placed sources said the election process to appoint the new party president is likely to be ... Read more »

Lee Bowyer singles out trio for praise after Birmingham's defeat to West Brom

© Provided by Football League World Championship – Birmingham City v Reading Lee Bowyer says Birmingham City were “solid” despite their defeat to West Bromwich Albion on Friday night. Blues are winless ... Read more »

Glosse: Jedem Kanton seinen Bundesrat!

Die Staatspolitische Kommission des Nationalrats will den Bundesrat auf neun Mitglieder vergrössern – schon wieder. Dabei ist das viel zu klein gedacht! © Bereitgestellt von Blick Jedem Kanton seinen Bundesrat! ... Read more »

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace: Prediction, kick off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results

© ES Composite PLHow2WatchArsenalCrystal.jpg Patrick Vieira makes what he admits will be an emotional return to his former club Arsenal on Monday. Vieira spent nine years at Arsenal as a ... Read more »