Aiming for a high-barrier, fully recyclable packaging solution for dry pet food, Siegwerk has applied its CIRKIT functional coatings to a mono-PE bag developed alongside Windmöller & Hölscher and B&B.

In order for pet food to stay safe and fresh, packaging manufacturers have traditionally utilized multi-material structures with a metallized layer. On top of such barrier properties as oil and fat resistance, these solutions tend to maintain the structural integrity of the pack.

However, upcoming EU regulations and directives are pushing manufacturers and brand owners to redesign their packaging for circularity, and these materials are hard to recycle.

“New approaches are needed to meet the upcoming regulatory requirements for circular packaging,” says Belal Habib, head of Brand Owner Collaboration at Siegwerk. “The challenge is to find a recyclable design that also meets the respective performance requirements of the packaging.

“The problem: they are not recyclable. This is where innovative barrier coatings applied in thin layers and inline with regular printing inks can help to switch from an incompatible multi-material structure to a fully recyclable mono-material solution in the sense of a Circular Economy.”

Siegwerk’s inline printable grease barrier coating, CIRKIT GreaseBar – and CIRKIT HeatGuard, which offers heat resistance on film surfaces, high-end sealing process efficiency, and can be applied inline with regular flexo or gravure machines – have been applied to a mono-PE bag. As such, it is said to offer the same packaging performance as complex multi-material alternatives, while also claiming to offer full recyclability.

Apparently, both coatings are solvent-based, fully deinkable after delamination, and can be printed inline without sacrificing print performance. The full PU inks used are thought to be compatible with mechanical recycling and, according to Siegwerk, offer printing speeds and quality that are comparable to NC/PU flexo inks.

All inks and coatings used are reported to be compatible with the latest recycling guidelines for packaging, including the German Minimum Standard and RecyClass.

“This development success once again underlines the importance of collaborating along the packaging value chain, combining the specialized know-how of industry experts,” adds Habib. “Together, we have succeeded in developing an innovation that is circular, delivers on performance and maintains current process efficiencies due to inline and high-speed conversion.

“This shows that, by joining forces, we are in a position to make recyclable mono-plastic packaging a reality and thus counter the still wide presence of multi-material laminated structures with future-oriented flexible packaging solutions made for circularity.”

Samples of the pouch will be available at B&B’s booth at Interzoo in Nuremberg on 7th – 10th May (Hall 4A, 4A-413); at W&H’s booth at drupa in Düsseldorf on 28th May – 7th June (Hall 15, A51); and on request from Siegwerk.

Experts from Siegwerk and B&B will also hold a presentation, ‘Recyclable Packaging Solutions for Pet Food’, at Interzoo on 8th May at 16:00 CEST.

Back in 2022, W&H and B&B worked with Dow to develop a recyclable, wide-format MDO-PE bag for pet food. Each bag is made with an MDO-PE film, with a thin layer of EVOH barrier applied over several structural layers of PE – a solution said to make it fully recyclable by the standards of various guidelines.

More recently, UPM Specialty Papers has revealed its own paper-based pet food packaging in a bid to phase out PFAS chemicals and plastic packaging. Its solutions include a barrier paper that offers recyclability, grease resistance, and ‘excellent’ print properties.

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