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Dow Technology Enables Recyclable Flexible Plastic Packaging

dow-logoDow Chemical has debuted a new RecycleReady Technology that allows polyethylene-based barrier packaging to be recycled as part of existing grocery store drop-off recycling programs.

The technology aims to divert packaging waste from landfill or incineration, increase post-consumer recycling yields and aid the creation of a circular economy for plastics packaging, Dow says.

It could also help deliver $3.5 billion in environmental savings — a cost benefit that could be achieved by drastically scaling up sustainable plastic initiatives such as recycled plastic, according to a paper by Trucost published last month.

Created through collaboration with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) and other industry members, the technology helps converters create recyclable barrier pouches. This enables the recycling of packaging for products like granola and nuts, which Dow says was not possible before in flexible packaging.

Dow’s RecycleReady Technology incorporates RETAIN polymer modifiers, “a key enabler for the recyclability of the packages,” said Stacy Fields, North America director, packaging solutions for Dow packaging and specialty plastics.

Dow says the stand-up pouch made with RETAIN polymer modifiers is the first package of its kind with barrier film that can be recycled in a polyethylene recycling stream. Before this innovation, flexible barrier packaging posed unique recycling challenges due to the variety of materials generally used as part of its makeup.

With RecycleReady Technology, converters will now have the ability to produce recyclable packaging with ingredients that ensure barrier protection, along with stiffness, toughness and sealability of the package, Dow says. These recyclable flexible pouches incorporate multiple layers, but use only polyethylene as the basic raw material.

RecycleReady Technology in North America has been approved by the SPC’s How2Recycle program to use the Store Drop-Off label. Plastic film, wrap, and bags carrying the Store Drop-Off label can be recycled at participating local retail and grocery stores.

Last year Dow, the SPC and packaging converter Accredo Packaging produced the Seventh Generation brand’s first recyclable Dishwasher Pods packaging. The innovation was developed in response to customer comments that the product’s previous packaging was not recyclable.

Dow is a founding member of the SPC.

Earlier this month the Association of Plastic Recyclers published a new design guideline that aims to increase plastics recycling by detailing steps for packaging and design engineers to consider when making products or containers.

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