Resinex seals deal to distribute Aquapak’s soluble barrier polymer in European recycling boost
30 Aug 2022 --- Aquapak is announcing an exclusive distribution deal through which Resinex will supply high-performance barrier films made from Hydropol polymers to Europe. When extrusion coated or laminated onto paper, Hydropol adds strength and barriers to oxygen, oil and grease, while its solubility enables complete paper fiber recovery through recycling mills.
The polymer is made from Polyvinylalcohol (PVOH) – the base plastic commonly used for dishwasher tablets, ingestible pill casings and soluble stitches. It is biodegradable, compostable, non-toxic to the environment and marine-safe, ensuring a responsible end-of-life if not disposed of properly.
“Hydropol is a specialty plastic used typically in barrier applications either in combination with mainstream commodity plastics or paper. As such, its price reflects its functional performance and is similar to other plastics in this context,” John Williams, CTO at Aquapak, tells PackagingInsights.
“Other conventional plastics like PE and PP lack the breadth of functionality provided by Hydropol. Typically, these plastics are always in combination with other materials to provide, for example, an oxygen barrier. Hydropol not only offers the functional performance of these other specialty polymers and coatings but provides recyclability, repulpability and compostability.”
Big market opportunities
Resinex, a pan-European distribution company with a leading position in the plastics and rubbers distribution market, will distribute Aquapak’s Hydropol on an exclusive basis as a barrier film in all European countries, except Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Aquapak says that the barrier packaging market in Europe is worth £430 million (US$505 million), presenting a “huge market opportunity.” Resinex has committed to purchasing a minimum of 8,000 metric tons of Hydropol over the next three years based on annual targets.
The Hydropol polymer enables product design to provide essential functionality while increasing recycling and reducing plastic pollution. The EU Plastics Strategy requires all packaging to be recyclable or reusable in an economically viable way by 2030.
“Hydropol‘s resistance to low temperature solubility and high barrier to elements adds functionality, providing a wider range of uses. It can be recycled, repulped, composted and is distinctively compatible with anaerobic digestion,” continues Williams.
“Furthermore, if unintentionally released into the natural environment, Hydropol will dissolve and subsequently biodegrade, leaving no trace.”
Oxygen barriers in short supply
According to Aquapak, the distribution deal comes at a time when the most widely used oxygen barrier, ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), is in short supply worldwide and only available through limited market channels.
The UK-based company has developed Hydropol technology, based around PVOH, for use as a highly functional oxygen barrier capable of replacing EVOH in many applications, thereby complementing Resinex’s product range of polymers for barrier packaging.
Alessio Patanè, Commercial Director, Resinex, comments: “There is an urgent need for new barrier materials to be used alongside EVOH, and we look forward to using this exciting new material to work with our customers, and in providing additional environmental packaging solutions,” says Alessio Patanè, commercial director at Resinex.
Mark Lapping, CEO at Aquapak, adds: “This opportunity represents a major strategic step forward for Aquapak and its ability to accelerate the growth of product sales in Europe, starting with the 60,000 metric tons per annum barrier packaging market in Europe. Hydropol offers a [environmentally] sustainable alternative to other forms of plastic packaging without any compromise when it comes to functionality, so we anticipate growing demand.”
Aquapak has partnered with a growing base of clients in barrier food packaging, logistics packaging, apparel, fashion, hospitality, healthcare, industrial, nonwovens and other packaging.
“Blown film, coex film, extrusion coating and laminates for paper and paperboard applications are commercially available and in customer production scale up, including a number of home delivery and e-commerce applications, packaging for dried pet food, snacks, cooked meat and convenience food applications,” shares Williams.
“Other applications under development with customers and development partners include injection molded parts, fiber and nonwovens for applications such as flushable wet wipes, and cellulose combinations for thermoformed trays.”
Earlier this month, Aquapak and compostable packaging specialist Tipa partnered to deliver a wide range of research-led materials to markets where there are currently no workable alternatives. The partners’ newest solution is a high-barrier, PVDC-free compostable film for packaging.
In other news, we recently spoke to DS Smith’s company’s senior R&D director, Susana Aucejo, who explained how her team is developing barrier materials to replace plastics in fiber-based packaging.
By Joshua Poole
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