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RecyClass investigates the recycling challenge of modern-day packaging

RecyClass, a Brussels-based initiative dedicated to improving the recylability of packaging products, is making headway regarding plastic film.

RecyClass carried out tests on the compatibility of the ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) barrier in polyethlene (PE) film with the recycling process. The findings show that EVOH with a threshold of up to 5% of the total weight of the PE film has a slight impact on the recycled  material.

However, above this limit, an immediate impact on the extrusion process was observed. One of the results includes increased yellowing of the material as well as a net increase of haze and gels & specks and a frequent bubble breakage.

RecyClass design for recycling guidelines for PE films, as well as the RecyClass tool, will be updated on the basis of these new findings. Accordingly, an EVOH concentration below or equal to 5% by weight will be considered as having limited compatibility, and an EVOH concentration above 5% by weight will be treated as ‘not compatible’ with recycling.

Consequently, within the RecyClass grading system (on the energy efficiency scale from A to F), EVOH with a threshold of up to 5% of the total weight of the PE film can be ranked maximally as class B1. This class implies that a package has some ‘minor’ recyclability issues.

‘Today, the industry is actively working on innovative packaging solutions that are not disruptive to the recycling processes,’ RecyClass observes. ‘By evaluating the new packaging technologies and providing advice on design  we hope to help the industry to ensure recyclability of products on the market.’

The tests were carried out in independent laboratories that run analyses on different samples.

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