An alternative to metal cans, flexible retort packaging offers well-known benefits such as light weight, resource efficiency and ease of transportation. Hitherto, however, it has posed a daunting challenge when it comes to recycling.
Standard retort pouches are high-performing multi-layer, multi-material structures, typically featuring a non-recyclable mix of PET, aluminium foil and PP.
Amcor and Nestle’s new solution is a polypropylene pouch, which uses an ultra-thin AmLite transparent barrier coating for product protection and which has been independently tested by cyclos-HTP and confirmed to be recyclable. The pouch will be introduced by Nestlé Purina as packaging for its Felix wet pet food.
In the new pouch, the aluminium foil used in conventional structures has been replaced by Amcor’s AmLite barrier coating technology, which, in combination with a more recent innovation - a polypropylene film that delivers high-performance for heat processing - yields a pack that can withstand the pressures of heat-sterilisation and provide a reliable barrier to oxygen and bacteria.
The recyclable polyproylene pouch substantially improves the environmental footprint of retort pouch packing, reducing the carbon footprint by up to 60% compared to standard multi-material solutions, say the partners.
Packaging made of polypropylene can be recycled in existing plastic recycling streams in the Netherlands where the new pouch product is being piloted for a year, starting in September 2020, with the Netherlands' largest retailer Albert Heijn.
The pouches themselves will be sold in a fully recyclable cardboard box which is, itself, made of 80 per cent recycled paper and will contain 6x Beef and 6x Chicken pouches.