EUROPE – Mondi Group, Austria-based packaging and paper company has developed a fully-recyclable polypropylene construction for thermoforming applications.

The recyclable polypropylene film can be used in thermoforming of flexible films for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging, with the ability to extend the shelf life of products such as meat and cheese.

According to Mondi, the packaging innovation offers a 23% reduction in carbon footprint compared to existing packaging, bringing brand owners next to their sustainable and climate goals.

The new, coextruded material includes a top and bottom web, with an internal barrier layer that comprises less than 5% of the entire structure, making it fully recyclable in existing waste streams.

Contrary to the previous multi-material construction which rendered the previous packages unrecyclable, the new material corresponds to brand owners and retailers’ requirements for redesigning flexible packaging to become more sustainable.

“Mondi’s view is that packaging should always be fit-for-purpose – paper where possible, plastic when useful – and sustainable by design,” said Thomas Kahl, project manager EcoSolutions for Mondi Consumer Packaging.

“The challenge with this project was to maintain the functionality that is key to such applications, including excellent oxygen and moisture barriers, and high puncture resistance – while also enhancing the package’s recyclability.”

The film has received highest qualification “Class AAA” in recyclability from the Aachen, German-based Institut cyclos-HTP, the Institute for Recyclability and Product Responsibility.

With the new recyclable film, customers can thermoform a fully recyclable PP film and achieve great sealability in the resulting package due to both the top and bottom web being the same, compatible material.

They can also benefit from excellent optical properties and an outstanding gas barrier that provides for longer shelf life of the packed foodstuffs.

The thermoformable food packaging looks to address challenges laid out in the ‘New Plastic Economy’ global initiative, which is striving toward a more circular and sustainable economy.