A potentially sustainable end-of-life solution has been demonstrated for a food packaging material long considered unrecyclable, Solvay reports.
A team of research scientists at the company have conducted a proof of concept showing that using an innovative solvent-based recycling process and a dedicated waste stream. the material in question - polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) - has the potential to be recycled. PVDC is used in food, beverage and healthcare multilayer barrier packaging across the world. Solvay has developed the proprietary knowledge and capabilities to - given the necessary investments and value chain collaboration required to collect and sort PVDC packaging waste - scale up this process with the. The proof of concept demonstrated the process could recycle Ixan PVDC bioriented film from a post-industrial waste source without compromising the barrier performance of the material. It was found that the recycled PVDC exhibited the exact same properties as virgin PVDC resin, in terms of both processing and barrier properties, as well as purity.
“The proof of concept developed by our research team is a solution for PVDC packaging circularity. It shows there is a possibility to reintegrate the recycled polymer into future applications, meaning it can be re-used and re-blended with virgin materials – without losing or degrading its high barrier properties,” said Claire Guerrero, Global Marketing Manager for Packaging Segment and Sustainability.This was an important precondition in the development of the process, as a reduction of these properties would defeat the purpose.
The developed solution can be applied to PVDC industrial waste as well as to multilayer structures containing PVDC. A mechanical separation step of the layers in multilayer structures is recommended to enhance the efficiency of the recycling process.
This mechanical separation step of the multilayer structure film was possible thanks to the value chain collaboration and it allowed us to develop the recycling process of the PVDC concentrated waste, the company said.
“The recycling technology developed by our team enables us to achieve the right quality so that the recycled PVDC meets the strict requirements for indirect food contact, creating the closed loop,” noted Yves Vanderveken, Senior Project Portfolio Leader R&I.
Now that this initial breakthrough has been achieved, Solvay is urging fellow companies operating within the plastics industry to work together to turn the recycling of PVDC into reality. There is a particular need to introduce the infrastructure required to collect and segregate packaging containing PVDC.
“It goes without saying that setting a global PVDC recycling stream is a huge task, so we are therefore inviting our fellow companies to work alongside us to introduce a way to recycle PVDC across the globe. We all have a role to play in the plastic packaging recycling challenge, and Solvay is committed to playing its part," stressed Ms Guerrero.