Packaging films made of monomaterial – completely recyclable and functional
At the same time, they fulfil their main task – the protective effect on the packaged goods – excellently: they protect food from contamination, simplify its transport, are difficult to break, in many cases allow a view of the product and significantly extend its shelf life. Good packaging can therefore make a major contribution to saving resources and reducing food waste. In order to further increase the recyclability of packaging, four Fraunhofer institutes are working in an ongoing project to develop a monomaterial film with all the properties necessary for product protection.
The many advantages of plastic packaging have contributed to its widespread use in recent decades and have made it an indispensable part of everyday life. At the same time, however, packaging waste also contributes significantly to the accumulation of plastics in the environment. If waste is not disposed of adequately, its long persistence hides the risk of accumulation of the corresponding materials in the environment with negative effects on wildlife and even humans.
Monomaterials replace multilayer filmsSingle-grade disposables can be easily separated and recycled, provided they are disposed of correctly. More problematic are so-called multilayer films, which are made up of several polymer layers that are practically inseparable from each other. Due to their outstanding properties, such composite films are mainly used for packaging in the food sector, e.g. pre-packed cheese, sausage or snacks. For these materials, the only practical option at the end of the product life cycle is thermal recycling, which, however, is not an ecologically desirable solution – although it is preferable to disposal in simple landfills or even shipping abroad. The focus of current developments is therefore on monomaterials. The first approaches for replacing multilayer films are already being offered on the market for selected applications.