Next up in our run-down of Pre-Commercialized Innovation Sustainability Awards finalists is Rotor Print, with their High Barrier Ready-to-Recycle paper, nominated in the ‘Recyclable Packaging’ category.
You’re a finalist in the Sustainability Awards 2022. Congratulations! To start off, could you summarise your entry High Barrier Ready-to-Recycle Paper, in less than 50 words?
In our commitment to sustainability at Rotor Print we have worked to develop paper stream recyclable packaging, with high barriers to ensure the correct preservation of the products. With good sealing properties on heat seal as well as cold seal, and good performance results for flowpacks.
Why do you think the judges were impressed with your entry? Tell us about what is innovative about your project and/or about its impact on packaging sustainability.
Nowadays the final consumer cares more about sustainability, and that drives companies to make decisions based on it. Consequently, greenwashing appears, which consists in putting forward ecological arguments in order to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly even if they are not.
Most of the time, the end consumer is not aware of the real sustainability of the packaging and believes paper equals sustainability, while what really matters is the recyclability of the packaging without losing the lifespan of the product. What is innovative about our solution is how we fit in one unique package the properties that before required multi-material packaging. In single-layer packaging with coatings applied we ensure: Recyclability, lifespan, sealing properties and good machinery performance.
Recyclability tested: The product is composed of a single paper layer where, by coating applications we get the properties required. While we did apply coatings on the paper layer, the percentage of the coating is a minimal part of the total weight of the packaging, which does not affect the recyclability of the packaging.
High barrier: When talking about sustainability it is very important to talk about how the packaging can help to preserve the product, to prolong the product lifespan and how in this way we can reduce the carbon footprint of the product. Good barriers are one of the key factors to ensure the longest lifespan possible of the product, and our product meets the requirements to guarantee correct preservation of the product with water vapour (<1) barriers, as well as grease resistance.
Sealing properties: By the application of coatings we allow our product to be sealed with heat as well as with cold seal systems. With both options the product can be considered an option for a great range of products, adapted to individual requirements.
Good machinery performance: Our machinery partner (ULMA Packaging) tested the performance of the material on their machines, and the results met expectations, being able to work 28m/min (160mm length, 175 packaging/min). This allows the material to be used on the actual packaging lines without problems with homologating it.
With our solution we ensure that the material used is designed for a circular economy because it can be 100% recycled and ensures the correct preservation of the product due to its good barrier properties.
When and how do you intend to launch/commercialize this innovation?
We already have many clients interested in making the migration from conventional packaging structures to our paper solution. It is a perfect packaging solution for snacks as well as chocolates packaged on horizontal flow packs.
You’re shortlisted for the ‘Recyclable Packaging’ category. What do you see as the key demands, challenges and opportunities in relation to recyclable packaging?
Recyclability itself is a challenge. We are in a global situation where the end user is looking for sustainability, and this drives the companies to move forward, and also the governments to enact legislation around sustainability. Nevertheless, the world is not ready yet for recyclability, there is no specific legislation, there is no recyclability education of the end consumer, and there are not enough recycling plants worldwide.
Legislation: While in the area of biodegradable or compostable materials there are legislations that describe what is able to be composted or is biodegradable, for recyclable materials there is not. At the moment, there are only some recommendations and guidelines for recycling packaging. Correct legislation for what is recycled and what is not will help to ensure all the packaging launched on the market is 100% recyclables.
Education: Even if the companies keep on advancing recyclable packaging, if the end consumer doesn’t dispose of the packaging correctly, these efforts are useless.
Recycling plants: Even if the companies launch recyclable products, and the end consumers sort them properly, if there are not enough recycling plants, we can’t ensure the recyclability of all the products, and we are not able to provide the total amount of recycled content to fulfill all the needs of the supply chain.
Avoid greenwashing: Through recycling materials legislation and the education of the end consumers we can avoid the greenwashing from some companies which are just switching from a plastic film packaging that is able to be recycled, to a multi-material solution with a paper layer on the external layer just to simulate sustainability, when what they are actually doing is and imposible to recycle packaging.
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