One of the leading UK flexible packaging manufacturers, Skymark, has collaborated with EU partners to develop technology that enables printed films to be recycled by successfully removing contaminants and odour, which often hinders the downstream process.
Under the project name CLIPP+ Skymark can now create environmentally friendly, recycled polyolefin films to be used in non-food packaging applications.
Alan Heappey CChem MRSC, project manager of Skymark, said: “Currently, most waste printed plastic packs are considered to be non-recyclable, having a very low added value and their use is limited to low-cost applications, energy recovery and landfill disposal.
“We wanted to create added-value plastics, via recycling, from post-industrial waste by offering reprocessed PE film that provides optimal mechanical, aesthetic and thermal properties as a substitute for virgin polymers.”
The groundbreaking technology uses carbon dioxide (CO2) as a cleaning and stripping agent in super-critical conditions. The recycled printed PE film is suitable to be used in various higher-added-value primary and secondary packaging applications, such as film for wrapping tissue packs.
Skymark has been coordinating the project since 2015 working alongside AIMPLAS, the plastics technology centre in Spain, and PureLoop (member of the Erema group), a European machine manufacturer. CLIPP+ is a Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Grant Agreement n° 673663.
Heappey added: “It has been exciting to see the full-scale PureLoop machine coming to life and has been rewarding to work with AIMPLAS and PureLoop who are both experts in their particular fields. Thanks to the team, the concept of adding CLIPP+ technology to a reclamation machine has now become a reality.”
Skymark has invested in the first commercial machine, which is being manufactured by PureLoop in Austria, and will be installed at the company’s headquarters in Scunthorpe in June 2017.
“Through strong collaboration, we believe we have jointly created a process that will contribute to the production of more sustainable packaging. The technology will increase the profile and capabilities of the polymer recycling industry, which is currently being steered by increasingly stringent legislation on packaging and packaging waste,” concluded Heappey.