There has never been a higher premium on combining high performance with recyclability and efficiency in packaging. Borealis explains how its commitment to sustainability starts with plastic.
One of the many unique advantages of plastic packaging is its light weight. It also protects and preserves goods in the most resource and energy-efficient way. These clear sustainability-related benefits must, however, be balanced by the recyclability of certain formats, and in particular high-performance, multimaterial flexible packs.
Recyclability is a key aspect of the circular economy, and resource efficiency is crucial in order to lower the carbon footprint of products. These issues are specifically addressed in the European Commission's Circular Economy Package, which sets clear targets for waste reduction and recycling rates.
It also promotes reuse and design for recycling. Taken together, these measures should increase resource efficiency: maintaining performance and function, while using less material and creating less waste.
Yet the transition to a more sustainable, cleaner and more competitive circular economy as envisioned by the European Commission will require intensive collaboration across the entire value chain. New packaging technology must be invented.
Borealis has assumed a leading role in the transition to a more resource-efficient polyolefins industry in Europe on several different levels. First, Borealis develops innovative polyolefin products that maximise resource and energy efficiency, like the polypropylene (PP) resins based on the proprietary Borealis Borstar Nucleation Technology.
PP offers significant benefits for injection moulding uses like thin-wall packaging and caps and closures; cycle time reductions of up to 10%; energy savings of up to 10% thanks to faster cooling through improved crystallisation; reduced wall thickness achieved through a unique stiffness/impact balance; and a dimensional stability when changing colour that helps reduce the amount of scrapped resin. The efficiency gains obtained through PP translate into reduced environmental impact versus conventional PP resins, thanks to lower greenhouse gas emission levels.
Second, Borealis designs for recycling with step-change concepts like the The Full Polyethylene (PE) Laminate. Such packaging innovations are even more eco-efficient because they achieve a better balance among the environmental footprints of production, use, and after-use.
At the same time, packaging function, versatility and performance is maintained. In close value chain collaboration, Borealis and its partners developed The Full PE Laminate solution based on proprietary Borstar bimodal technology in combination with machine direction-oriented (MDO) processing.
The Full PE Laminate technology meets all the performance requirements of the converting and packaging process.
Importantly, this monomaterial pack can be recycled into moulded and extruded film applications. The concept has been proved with all conversion partners: origin blown film extrusion; printing/laminating; pouch making and filling; regrinding; and 100% reuse for a second blown film extrusion technology to manufacture value-added bags (for example, with no addition of virgin material).
The life cycle assessment of The Full PE Laminate technology carried out by Denkstatt consultants confirms its enhanced environmental sustainability.
Assuming an overall recycling rate of 50% (including 50% municipal waste incineration), flexible packaging based on The Full PE Laminate concept can further reduce the carbon footprint by up to 15% compared with a multimaterial film solution that is not recyclable, or only recyclable into low-quality recycling products.
Third, with its acquisition of leading German plastics 'upcycler' mtm Plastics, Borealis has become the first European polyolefins producer directly engaged in plastics recycling.
The pairing of recycling know-how and high-quality recyclate with Borealis's application, blending and compounding expertise will broaden the horizon for recycled polyolefins to include additional, and more sophisticated, markets.
By taking its engagement in the area of plastics recycling to a new level, Borealis underscores its commitment to upholding the principles of the circular economy through designing primary and secondary raw material solutions.
Finally, Borealis has taken an active role in advocating the principles of the circular economy. As one of the initiators in the establishment of the Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP), Borealis is working with PlasticsEurope and other organisations across the value chain to identify challenges and opportunities.
Borealis supports the pioneering New Plastics Economy initiative sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Through membership in industry associations like Europen and PRE, Borealis keeps discovering solutions for a more sustainable future..