Coated paper- and cardboard has up until now, mostly been a recycling headache. The problem is the need to separate the plastic from the paperboard prior to recycling, as these products will otherwise not be suitable for the paper recycling stream. As a result, rather than being recycled, most coated paperboard applications have tended instead to be incinerated or landfilled.
According to Total Corbion PLA, this problem does not arise with Luminy PLA-coated paperboard applications, as this resin, unlike its conventional counterparts, does not interfere with either the pulpability or recyclability of the paper.
Products coated with Luminy PLA can now not only be certified compostable, but also recyclable, adding an end-of-life option for applications based on coated paperboard/paper - coffee cups and take-out containers - that was previously unavailable.
The recyclability of the PLA-coated paperboard was certified by Western Michigan University and the paperboard samples for the trial were provided by Metpack, who are specialised in extruded barrier coated food grade paper boards.
“By proving the recyclability of PLA coated paperboard, we’ve gained an additional and even more valuable end-of-life option which the whole value chain can benefit from,” said Jenifer Mitja, Application Specialist at Total Corbion PLA, who led the project.
Luminy PLA can be applied on conventional paperboard extrusion lines at competitive speeds. Using a PLA-coating allows for a fully biobased solution with excellent seal strength and printability that does not require pretreatment. And because, like paper, PLA is a polar material, outstanding adhesion can be achieved. Applying a PLA-coating results in good flavour and aroma barrier and excellent grease and mineral oil resistance. The coating is also suitable for ready-to-eat containers that need to be reheated in the microwave or oven.
The development is one the world has been waiting for, according to Thomas Philipon, CEO at Total Corbion PLA. “Packaging in general is under quite some pressure from both consumers and governments around the world to be more sustainably managed. The ability to recycle PLA-coated paperboard empowers brand owners, retailers, hospitality outlets and waste management companies to work with a biobased packaging solution that can be either composted or recycled depending on what is most environmentally efficient for that specific application. We are extremely proud to be contributing even further towards driving the circular economy forward”.