Meeting the demand for recyclable food packaging

Food packaging enables food to be distributed very efficiently and plays an integral role in preventing food waste by protecting the product and extending shelf life. Concerns about climate change and growing awareness about packaging’s footprint has made consumers more conscious of the environmental impact food packaging may have. Now, retailers are removing as much unnecessary plastic as possible, and there is increasing interest in making food packaging easier to recycle.

However, soft plastic packaging, which is cost-effective and efficient for many items, is difficult to recycle profitably due to its low value and complexity. Still, the industry must tackle the challenge of recycling the remaining soft plastic rather than having it end up in a landfill or incineration. The infrastructure for recycling soft plastic is in its infancy, which is why many major retailers offer front-of-store collection points for single polymer polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) packaging next year.

Nelipak is committed to helping customers achieve their sustainability goals by using our STREAM™ products designed to be recycled in keeping with current guidelines. Our STREAM™ range of materials have been developed to help fresh, frozen, dry and MAP food producers use packaging that can be recycled as part of a closed-loop system, by using a single polymer structure to help identify, sort and mechanically recycle food packaging more easily.

There is not a ‘one size fits all’ material for food packaging. For example, some produce requires an oxygen barrier to extend its shelf life and some only moisture barrier. Our STREAM™ range of PE and PP materials has been created to fulfill a variety of specifications to meet different packaging methods such as vertical-form-fill-seal (VFFS), flow-wrap, lidding, and thermoforming.

To date, our team has created up to 20 different recyclable specifications in our STREAM™ range and will continue to collaborate with our customers to develop new varieties to meet their changing needs.