Uniflex launches packaging with a single-material structure
Throughout 2021, the company claims to have successfully developed and shipped industrially produced ready-made bags from single-material structures for segments such as confectionery, grocery, pet food, household chemicals and dairy products. Ecological packaging for other segments is also in the testing phase.
Typically, packaging found on store shelves consists of several layers of different types of plastic (PET, PE, PP, etc.). Each of them solves one of the tasks of the manufacturer: one layer is responsible for the formation of seams, the other performs a barrier function to help extend the shelf life of the product, etc. When manufacturing multilayer packaging, the layers are laminated together and as a result the packages seem to become difficult to recycle – delamination is either technically impossible or economically inefficient. Uniflex has successfully developed and now manufactures packaging on an industrial scale, each layer of which consists of a non-barrier or barrier polymer (polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP)). This packaging retains all the usual functions of a multi-component structure, but is also recyclable, which is reflected in the certain recycling symbol.
“The trend of ecological packaging is defined both by the authorities in each country and the unions and by consumers among individuals,” explains Uniflex Managing Director Alexander Khomichenko. “For example, the UK and the EU plan to significantly increase taxes on non-recyclable packaging by the end of the current decade and half of recycled packaging must be suitable for repeated use. There are similar plans in Russia – starting in 2022, the government of the Russian Federation will re-launch Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which requires producers and importers to dispose of manufactured or imported products at the end of their production cycle. life. At the same time, consumers behave more and more consciously and do not make their choice of products on impulse, but carefully study products and pay attention to the durability and natural ingredients of products, as well as sustainability. packaging. Uniflex has also contributed to this trend: as part of the general strategy of the company to be more respectful of the environment, our company is one of the first printing companies to have launched the development of packaging with a mono-structure. material. Our previous large-scale environmental project was carried out with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and concerned the launch of a gas purification unit which captures 97% of the volatile organic compounds at the site of production.
The production of packaging with a recyclable mono-material structure is an important step for Uniflex on the road to building a sustainable company by incorporating the principles of the circular economy and complying with the standards of national and international standards on the waste management and environmental protection.
“The development of packaging with a single-material structure in Uniflex is carried out by the Research and Development (R&D) department. The first tests started 2 years ago and the first shipment of the recyclable packaging to the customer took place in December 2020 ”, said Deputy Director General of Technology Sergey Kostin. “Since then, many problems have been resolved, many films from different manufacturers have been tested, and we now have a result that is fully satisfied both for us and our customers. At the same time, it is important to understand that the process of developing environmentally friendly packaging can only take place in close cooperation between the printing house and the customer. It can take a long time before industrial production starts, and it requires constant feedback to get the customer’s result regarding the packaging properties of a specific product.