Mondi and Werner & Mertz are introducing a new, patented innovation in 2019: A 100 percent recyclable pouch with detachable decorative panels. The pouch replaces conventional flexible packaging for Frosch products and features a pioneering design that overcomes many shortcomings of the recycling process. The pouch is the result of a joint effort by Werner & Mertz, Mondi, EPEA Switzerland (Cradle to Cradle), Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland and Institut cyclos-HTP.
In 2014, Werner & Mertz decided to develop packaging that is recyclable in the fullest sense. Mondi was there to help with the ambitious project. The project was not just about developing flexible plastic packaging that is only theoretically recyclable, rather to reverse-engineer the recycling process. In other words, the goal was to create packaging that is a fit for every stage of the recycling process. This was easier said than done.
A crucial and often neglected step in the recycling process is sorting. Failure to sort the collected packaging into material streams that recyclers can use leads to down-cycling. That is, the production of recycled material no longer suitable for its original application.
“If you want to avoid a garbage-in, garbage-out scenario, the entire value chain must be aligned – from packaging producers through players in sorting and recycling to buyers of recycled material,” says Immo Sander, head of packaging development, Werner & Mertz Group.
The packaging needed to be made of a polyethylene mono-material, which is a prerequisite for recycling.
“Our collaboration with Werner & Mertz shows, in the best possible way, how challenges can become solutions,” says Jens Kösters, manager technical services, Mondi Consumer Goods Packaging. “We worked our way through an innovation funnel— testing different materials until we arrived at a designed-for-recycling concept that convinced everyone at each point of the value chain. Furthermore, the concept offers clear benefits related to sealing strength and maximum filling volume.”
A final touch was added to solve the issue of recycling printed plastic materials. The pouch has two layers. There’s an eye-catching outer garment that is printed with brand design on the front and consumer info on the back. And when the pouch is empty, it is “undressed” by automatically shredding and sorting the two components into separate recycling streams.
The end package is 100 percent recyclable. The material is free of glue or adhesive. Its spout and cap are also made of polyethylene, which means the recycled material will be equivalent in quality to the original material.