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Flexible Packaging

Curbside Recyclable Pouch Wins Top Award

The top winner in this year’s Dow awards, a standup pouch from Australia, combines the benefits of high-barrier food packaging with curbside recyclability.

The Diamond Award winner in Dow’s 2021 Packaging Innovation AwardsO F Packaging (O F Pack) and its recyclable, high-barrier stand-up pouch for Brookfarm Toasted Muesli — offers a creative approach to flexible packaging sustainability and packaging design.

Called Roll ‘n’ Recycle, the Diamond winning package is a 100% polyethylene (PE) pouch that consumers roll up when the product has been consumed. A specially engineered sticker, which is attached to the pouch, is used to secure the rolled package.

Language on the sticker lets consumers know they can deposit the pouch in their household recycling bin after rolling. In addition to being recyclable, the pouch incorporates barrier properties that protect the muesli from spoiling.

Rolling the pouch into a semi-rigid 3D shape enables it to move through existing recycling processes without contaminating the paper stream, as other soft plastics sometimes do, and without affecting the turning mechanical parts within a material recovery facility.

“Much work has gone into the pouch and label adhesive to ensure packs remain rolled throughout their journey to the recycling facility,” says Joe Foster, Group CEO of Close the Loop Group, O F Packaging’s parent company.

“In the rare instance where a label may fail, the pouch would need to be discarded into soft-plastic recycling streams instead,” he adds. “But results have proven that the rolled pouches move successfully through the process at the same rate as rigid plastic bottles, providing no more interference than any other rigid plastic type in the system.”

O F Packaging collaborated closely with PREP Design and Result Group to develop the final Roll ‘n’ Recycle design. The partners spent 12 months developing and testing the structure.

“We tested a number of pouch sizes and shapes; however, we wanted the concept to work with existing pouch styles and sizes to ensure easy adaption by brand owners. The label and adhesive were the key elements that had to work best for the concept to be successful, rather than pouch size and shape,” Foster says.

“The label material and adhesive required immense testing for resistance and durability through the heat and physical impact conditions of the recycling infrastructure,” he adds. “Result Group supported O F Pack in testing and trials as a label specialist and ensured the label materials were crafted from the same polymer as the Brookfarm pouch, to ensure all aspects of the pouch remained as a mono-polymer PE material.”

Brookfarm’s Toasted Muesli pouch, which launched into the Australian market in late 2020, is the first commercial application for Roll ‘n’ Recycle.

The product is sold only in Australia, available for purchase via Brookfarm’s online store and via independent supermarkets and health stores across the country. Both O F Packaging and Brookfarm are Australian companies.

“Brookfarm and O F Pack were first to market with the technological function that the label and recyclable pouch combination provided a truly curbside-recyclable pouch packaging format that required no changes to existing waste infrastructure,” Foster says.

PREP Design manages a certification program that allows packages to display the Roll ‘n’ Recycle mark, which indicates the package is acceptable to recyclers.

To be certified, a pouch must be 100% polyethylene or 100% polypropylene, including features such as zipper closures. Film thickness must be at least 80 µm, and no metallized films are permitted. After a package is certified, PREP Design licenses a registered trademark to display on-pack.

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