On November 28, 2019, the Knowledge Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV) based in the Netherlands announced the publication of a study on recyclable alternatives to laminates used in food packaging. Laminates are described as multilayer foils that are often used in food packaging for their strength and flexibility but are currently difficult to recycle. The Belgian Packaging Institute (IBE-BVI) reported that the KIDV study therefore investigated “viable alternatives to laminate packaging, which are available in the short or medium term, which can be used as circularly as possible.” The study compared ten commonly used laminate packaging materials with alternative materials regarding their: environmental impact, cost, processability in the packaging process, product protection, marketing (appearance), compatibility with the available recycling process, and specific details of the alternative materials.

The study is reported to have found that “in practice a 1 [to] 1 replacement [with an alternative] is usually difficult or even impossible” and that “the original materials are usually designed for specific applications and optimized over the years.” Therefore, each potential replacement is recommended to be evaluated “case by case” to determine “to which exten[t] a change of material has a critical impact on the functionality of the packaging.” KIDV writes that “to optimally recycle laminate packaging in the future, changes are needed on the design side of packaging,” and the organization is currently developing design guidelines.

Read More

IBE-BVI (December 2019). “Research on recyclable alternatives for laminates.”

KIDV (November 28, 2019). “KIDV publiceert Recyclecheck voor flexibele kunststof verpakkingen.” (in Dutch)

KIDV (November 28, 2019). “Recyclebare alternatieven voor laminaten.” (pdf) (in Dutch)