In an effort to reach its goal of becoming three times more efficient by 2030 — dubbed “Factor 3” — Henkel expects to have to improve its efficiency by an average of 5-6 percent per year. That’s why the company turned to long-time partner Mondi to help find a solution for incorporating more of its scrap plastic into a highly functional, aesthetically pleasing, flexible laminate packaging material.
Henkel has begun selling its Megaperls washing powder in the resulting flexible package — called a “quadro seal bag” — that consists of an OPP/PE laminate. At present, 30 percent of the package’s PE layer consists of industrial waste reclaimed from Mondi’s factory in Halle, Germany. That means the overall package structure contains approximately 10 percent regrind material.
Given the technical challenges involved, both companies recognize this as an important initial step to helping ensure that such consumer packaging meets the environmental needs of a more circular economy. Considering the package requirements — a shiny white exterior, an easy-peel opening, and no compromise in overall functionality — this is already a significant achievement for a thin, flexible OPP/PE laminate. But the two partners have much more ambitious goals.
“Our aim is to achieve 50 percent level of regranulate in the full structure,” says Timo Müller, Mondi’s key account manager for Henkel. He adds the project has been made possible by the advanced resin reclamation technology in place at Mondi’s Halle plant, which allows the firm to collect and separate not only transparent and white materials, but also those that do not contain a slip agent. This helps to enable the use of regrind in the laminate without negatively impacting its material specifications and product mechanical properties.
“We are working closely with our OPP film supplier to allow us to use oriented polypropylene with regranulated content, thereby enabling us to increase the percentage of reclaimed material in the entire structure,” Müller continues.
The resulting end product offers clear environmental benefits: Virgin resins are replaced with regrind material and the product’s end-of-life recycling process is simplified as the OPP/PE laminate structure consists entirely of polyolefin materials, Müller notes.
“Our packaging developers work constantly to design smart packaging that uses the least amount of material possible, is recyclable and incorporates more recycled material,” says Dr. Thorsten Leopold, head of International Packaging Development Home Care, Henkel. “Mondi provides us with valuable technological expertise to implement a more sustainable solution for some of our laundry and home care product packaging.”
The two partners look forward to significantly boosting the percentage of reclaimed content in more Henkel packaging to contribute further to Henkel’s ambitious Factor 3 sustainability goal.