Recyclable barrier for food packaging

2022-04-13 –

Cardboard packaging is perfect for a circular economy and the more completely it can be recycled, the more positive this is for the environment. STI Group maximises the recyclability of its packaging by using special barrier varnish instead of a traditional polyethylene (PE) coating. 

Cardboard packaging for food often needs a grease or moisture barrier, which is traditionally achieved by applying a thin layer of PE. Consumers often do not recognise at first glance that their cardboard packaging contains a plastic component, but it will certainly be identified at the recycling plant. The PE coating and all the cardboard fibres adhering to it will be sieved out and ‘thermally recycled’ - i.e. incinerated. Potentially recyclable cardboard is therefore being lost along with residual PE waste. 

Modern water-soluble barriers that do not reduce recyclability can be used for food packaging; even if coloured and even if in direct contact with the food. This prompted STI Group to develop its TO GO packaging for fat-containing foods, based on a sustainable barrier varnish instead of PE coating. The varnish enables the inside of the pack to be branded attractively, is naturally food-safe, and is fully recyclable – as demonstrated by TU Darmstadt, using PTS RH021/97 Cat.1 for packaging recyclability.

Innovation booster Circular Innovation

Maximising packaging recyclability by using renewable monomaterial solutions, while educating consumers to make better choices is part of STI Group's Circular Innovation ethos. Its holistic, strategic approach drives more sustainable packaging development and manufacturing methods. An interdisciplinary team evaluates each new idea in the context of a circular economy and brings effective innovations to market: this move to replace PE coatings with fully recyclable varnish is just one example.