A trio of Japanese companies has announced the joint development of a mono-material film packaging materials and manufacturing process that, say the companies, offering 80% lower CO2 emissions compared to conventional materials and that are completely free of volatile organic compounds.
The material, created by Toray Industries, Mitsui Chemicals, and Kumagai Co., is fully recyclable. Targeted applications include refillable pouch solutions for foods, shampoos, and detergents.
During the manufacturing process of traditional film packaging material, petroleum solvent-based inks are used to print text, images, and other information on plastic films and in adhesives to laminate plastic films. Not only do these processes all consume energy, the solvents release VOCs. Moreover, the multi-material structure of most laminated plastics meant these could not be recycled, leading to their frequent incineration as waste.
VOC emissions from petroleum solvents in film packaging materials production and their impact on work environments have long raised concerns. Also, as companies seek to reduce the carbon footprint of their processes and products, ways to develop both more energy efficient production methods and circular products are increasingly being investigated.
The joint development of the new material saw the application of Toray’s proprietary Imprima offset printing plate that uses electron beam-cured printing inks requiring less electricity and no thermal drying. Mitsui Chemicals provided the materials expertise and Kumagai developed the packaging. The result is a lightweight, transparent, solvent-free, recyclable and easily processable material suitable for a diversity of packaging applications that the partners are now set to commercialise, as demand for solutions of this kind continues to grow.