Amcor has partnered with Nestlé to launch what the companies are describing as the world’s first recyclable flexible retort pouch. The new high barrier pouch, using Amcor’s AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable solution, will be available in-store from October 2020.

Amcor and Nestlé joined forces to overcome what they identify as one of the largest challenges facing the industry – the inability to recycle retort flexible packaging.

The challenge with standard retort pouches is that they are made of mixed materials, typically layers of PET, aluminium foil, and polypropylene (PP). While it is high performing, Amcor reports that this mixed-material structure is not recyclable anywhere in the world today.

The new solution, which has been independently confirmed as recyclable by cyclos-HTP, is a polypropylene (PP) pouch, that uses an ultra-thin AmLite transparent barrier coating for product protection.

The companies collaborated during the product development process to test for heat resistance, machine performance, shelf-life, and recyclability in the real world.

“Amcor and Nestlé together have been able to create a unique solution that for years was thought impossible,” says Michael Zacka, president of Amcor Flexibles EMEA, “This high-barrier, high-heat resistant packaging can be easily recycled within plastic recycling streams already existing in several European countries.”

Flexible retort packaging is being marketed as a modern alternative to metal cans, and the companies say that it can improve the carbon footprint of hundreds of consumer products thanks to its light weight, resource efficiency, ease of transportation, and by minimizing food waste.

According to Amcor, adding recyclability to its list of properties will improve the environmental footprint of this packaging solution by up to a further 60%.

The new pouch also meets the packaging guidelines for a circular economy recently published by the CEFLEX Consortium. Project coordinator and workstream consultant for CEFLEX, Graham Houlder, says: “This is a great example of how – through innovation – companies can solve even the biggest challenges to recyclability. Recyclable retort packaging is a revolutionary advance and will have a huge impact on pet food and beyond.”