RecyClass clears Viva Packaging’s IML tube ready for PP recycling streams
22 Sep 2022 --- RecyClass has evaluated Viva Packaging’s In-Mold Label (IML) tube to assess the impact that printed IML would have on the recyclability of PP tubes. The results of the independent laboratory testing demonstrated that Viva Packaging’s PP-based technology IML tube is compatible with the rigid PP recycling stream.
“The combination of tube, IML and decorations (ink, varnish and cold stamp) was what made this packaging special,” explains Fabrizio di Gregorio, technical director of Plastics Recyclers Europe, to PackagingInsights.
The decorated, PP-based tube is designed with a biaxially-oriented PP (BOPP) IML, with a combination of inks, varnish and cold stamp representing less than 0.7% of the total weight of the packaging. IML decoration can be used in numerous industries, including food, beverage, cosmetics and healthcare.
Non-disruptive PP recycling
Frank van den Kieboom, commercial director of Europe at Viva Packaging Europe, tells us that the tubes had to be designed for recycling as a starting point, making sure that the shoulder, tube sleeve and IML label were all of the same material. “Due to the specific process, the one piece molding process can ensure this.”
Di Gregorio adds that IML can play a role in the compatibility of the packaging with recycling. “In particular, it is important to develop a product where the inks would not bleed during the washing step of the recycling process, which can be a common issue for IMLs.”
“More generally speaking, the IML facestock (PP) is not having a negative impact regarding recyclability, but its combination with different types of inks, varnish or lacquers may have.”
“The non-disruption of the PP recycling process means that none of the different steps of the recycling process will be significantly affected by the presence of this packaging in the stream. In that specific case, this means that inks were not bleeding during the washing process and that the extrusion and injection processes were stable,” asserts di Gregorio.
What makes the tube special
Van den Kieboom adds that since customers are keen on having decorated products on the shelves and in their homes, RecyClass needed to ensure that when IML labels were printed with multiple colors and had cold foil or hot stamp on them, they would still be detected in the mechanical recycling process as a PP product that allowed recycling after use.
Viva’s tube packaging solutions are manufactured by an injection molding process and decorated by in-mold labeling.
“The process calls for a printed in-mold label to be inserted into a mold and ‘shot’ with a proprietary PP resin. Within seconds, the tube is fully formed and decorated in one piece, including the neck, shoulders and body. The label is literally embedded in the walls of the tube, forming an integral part of the tube wall and protecting the decoration from scuffs during distribution and use,” explains van den Kieboom.
He continues that the short manufacturing process is showing substantial improvement in energy consumption.
IML tube testing
Following the sorting trials, the Institut für Kunststofftechnologie und -recycling carried out the recyclability tests according to the RecyClass Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for PP containers.
These tests show that the IML tube poses no disruptive impacts to the rigid, colored PP recycling stream when the set conditions are fulfilled. Recycled plastics generated from the recycling of the IML tube can be used in injection molding applications with up to 50% concentration.
“As there was already a rigid PP stream investigated and approved by RecyClass it was a small step to have these IML tubes tested by an accredited lab working with RecyClass,” says van den Kieboom.
“With the importance of [environmental] sustainability, recyclability and the move towards a circular economy, we are also able to offer the same products with a very high percentage of PCR in both cap and tube sleeves (up to 70%). Post consumer recycled plastic will become or is already mandatory in some EU countries so we are well prepared.”
“Following this RecyClass approval, Viva Packaging is also introducing other packaging based on IML and PCR PP in the form of round and oval deodorant sticks (with or without refills),” he concludes.
By Natalie Schwertheim
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