AR Packaging is launching Ecoflex - a recyclable mono-polyethylene film for thermoforming applications that the company says provides an alternative to PA-based materials, whilst fully meeting OPRL guidelines.

With this new solution, AR hopes to take advantage of increasing mono-material plastic packaging film consumption, which, according to market research specialist Smithers, is forecast to grow during 2020–25 at an annual average rate of 3.9% to 26.03 million tonnes.

Designed primarily as a thermoforming base web, Ecoflex is formulated with premium PE polymers, which AR says helps it to offer good puncture resistance, improved tear resistance and suitability for MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) or vacuum applications.

With what the company describes as “excellent clarity and printability”, the material is suited for meat, dairy and bakery thermoformed applications and reportedly has “good recyclability throughout Europe.”

Ecoflex is manufactured at AR Packaging’s Highbridge site in the UK. Highbridge’s products are used in both food and non-food industries where material function plays a crucial element, such as a gas barrier or to offer puncture resistance.

“The launch of Ecoflex provides retailers with their sustainable material of choice,” says Greg Mitchell, technical sales manager, AR Packaging Highbridge.

“Instead of a reliance on PA/PE-material for their flexible thermoformed applications, Ecoflex is a recyclable mono PE film that offers comparative mechanical and impact strength. In the UK, for example, the material can be recycled at front-of-store recycling facilities that allow consumers to return polyolefin-based flexible packaging.”

The company claims that its Ecoflex material demonstrates similar or better performance on standard thermoforming and filling lines, with the possibility of reduced temperature settings and, therefore, energy savings.