The transition to a Circular Economy is a necessity if we wish to create a better and more sustainable future for our children and the generations to come. We need to make the most of our limited resources and recycle the materials whenever possible.

 

Today’s consumers are aware of a product’s environmental impacts. This extends also to product’s packaging, which is valued for being sustainable as well. At Amerplast, we have over 25 years of experience in utilising recycled raw materials for the manufacture of new plastic products and packaging. We are constantly looking for more sustainable alternatives to traditional, oil-based virgin raw materials. We are aiming to make recycled and bio based raw materials a standard in our business.

Market Trends

 

  • Sustainability is one of today’s key trends and future requirements. Recyclability and the use of recycled raw materials are the features now sought after in sustainable flexible packaging solutions.
  • According to the European Union plastics strategy, all plastic packaging should be recyclable or reusable by 2030.

 

 

  • Increasingly demanding recycling targets at a European level (from the current 22.5% to 50% by 2025) and more efficient Extended Producer Responsibility schemes across Europe create requirements and pressure to increase the recyclability of packaging.
  • The future of plastic packaging is in recyclability, enabling the transition to the circular economy of plastics.

MATERIAL EFFICIENCY

 

Material efficiency is an important part of sustainable development and the circular economy. It means producing the same end result with less raw materials thus increasing the efficiency in the use of natural resources. The efficient use of raw materials plays a key role in decreasing the climate change effects of our industry. Thanks to the product development and the development of our production processes we are able to produce high-quality flexible packaging with optimised film thickness, without compromising the required technical features.

Material efficiency in our own production means also the utilisation of our own polyethylene production waste to minimize the amount of unutilised material. This material is internally recirculated as raw material for recycled flexible packaging solutions such as tissue packaging or carrier bags, for example.

 

Together with our customers and partners, we are always looking for new ways to further develop the efficient use of the limited volume of non-renewable natural resources. Examples of material efficiency are the use of recycled raw materials, internal recirculation of production waste and optimisation of the films thickness.

Solutions and Features

Recycled raw materials

 

Amerplast has a long history of working with recycled raw materials. We have been manufacturing recycled plastic packaging, such as carrier bags, since the beginning of the 90s. Due to our long history of transforming recycled raw materials into high quality plastic packaging, we are an industry leader in the utilisation of recycled raw materials in different flexible packaging applications.

In 2017, we launched the First Finnish Circular Bag ESSI which is partly made from post-consumer packaging waste separately collected from Finnish households. The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra* included Amerplast in its listing of most interesting companies in the circular economy in Finland, which showcases the country’s most inspiring examples of circular economy. Amerplast earned its ranking for its use of plastic waste from consumers and industry as a raw material for the ESSI Circular Bags.

 

Nowadays we are using recycled raw materials in the production of other non-food and secondary packaging applications. According to our research the use of recycled raw materials decreases the environmental effects of packaging and also the need for virgin and often fossil-based raw materials.

*Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, is an independent public foundation that operates under the supervision of the Finnish Parliament. Sitra aims at making Finland a successful pioneer in sustainable well-being by anticipating societal trends, exploring alternatives for development and bringing together partners from different sectors for open-minded trials and reforms.

ESSI Kiertokassi (ESSI Circular Bag)

 

The ESSI Circular Bag is the first Finnish circular economy carrier bag. It contains a minimum of 90% recycled materials with 50% post-consumer recycled materials separately collected from Finnish households. Read more about the ESSI Circular Bag concept (in Finnish).

Pirkka ESSI Circular Bag

ESSI Kiertokääre (ESSI Circular Wrap)

 

The ESSI Circular Wrap is a polyethylene flexible packaging for non-food and secondary packaging, containing post-consumer recycled materials separately collected from Finnish households and recycled materials from industrial sources. Read more about the ESSI Circular Wrap concept (in Finnish).

ESSI Kiertokääre

Ensured recyclability

 

The majority of the packaging we produce is recyclable in the existing recycling streams. Our focus in the development of laminates is exclusively on the recyclable solutions. Sustainability is at the core of Amerplast’s operations and strategy, and our ambition is to be at the forefront of the development of the most sustainable flexible packaging solutions. Recyclability is the key when we strive to make the transition towards the circular economy and an efficient recycling of plastic packaging.

 

Currently the most commonly and commercially used recycling method is the mechanical recycling process. The collected waste material is sorted by plastic type with a near infrared (NIR) technology for example, shredded and washed, melted and regranulated as recycled plastic pellets. According to one of our suppliers the recycling of plastics only requires 15 % of the amount of energy it takes to produce virgin plastics. The challenge in this mechanical recycling method is that it sets more precise requirements for the packaging materials in order for them to be recycled in this process. The challenge with plastics is the vast variety of different types and combinations.

 

 

Requirements for recyclability

 

  • Further utilisation of clear and unprinted materials is easier than coloured and printed films. In addition, even when the technologies are constantly developing further, the current technologies have problems in recognising the black packaging materials and we recommend reconsidering the packaging colour if it is black.
  • Preferably made from one single material like plastic. If multiple materials are required like plastic paper combinations, the materials need to be easily separated when sorted by consumers at home.
  • Preferably made from only one type of plastic rather than combining multiple plastic types.
  • When combinations of different plastic types are needed for barrier or functionality reasons the combination needs to be carefully developed with a solid know-how of the recycling method requirements.

 

Granulates

 

 

Another way of recycling plastics is a chemical recycling in which the collected plastic waste will be processed to a monomer level which means that the packaging that is now challenging or impossible to recycled could be recycled. This recycling method is still being developed and in a pilot phase with high hopes of the method becoming commercially implementable.

Recyclable laminate solutions

 

Laminated structures in packaging are used for different purposes, such as barrier properties, sealability, and reverse printing. Amerplast has developed solutions for the laminated structures that are fully recyclable in the existing recycling streams. The main purpose of the packaging is to protect the packed products and to communicate the brand message to consumers. For this reason, the key focus in the development of recyclable solutions has been in the functionality, sealability , runnability and visuality of the materials.

 

We have developed different types of new recyclable solutions for different packaging needs. To present a few of our options, we have, for example, mono polyethylene laminate structures for applications requiring excellent optical properties but not high barriers. These solutions are provided both in matt and regular film which offer different visual options as well as a different touch. For meat and dairy low-pack packaging applications, we have solutions providing barrier properties without compromising the recyclability. Contact our sales experts to learn more.

Circular Economy Solutions –

part of our AmerGreen Sustainability Program

 

Sustainability is and will remain a key requirement for flexible packaging. At Amerplast, we are relentlessly promoting the use of green packaging solutions simply because we think it is our responsibility as a packaging supplier to constantly search for and bring forward the most environmentally friendly alternatives in materials and technologies for producing high quality packaging solutions.

 

The AmerGreen sustainability program is our quest for a better world. As part of the program, we offer sustainable raw materials and ensured recyclability. Read more >>

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