The benefits of the application of monomaterials in the packaging industry
The packaging industry wants to benefit from the application of mono-materials in its production. These materials offer several advantages: reduction of production costs and energy use, reduction of packaging waste and, most notably, improved recyclability. By not being composed of different materials, it eliminates the need for complex sorting processes, introducing the possibility of recycling them with little time and energy. As a result, it contributes to the circular economy and the reduction of the company’s carbon footprint in terms of production, thus combating global warming.
Barcelona Packaging Hub, founded in 2019 is a network of companies in Barcelona dedicated to innovative machinery in the packaging sector. A network of companies that seeks to provide solutions to market needs through the development of monomaterials, in order to continue its commitment to the environment and a more sustainable production. A network of companies that seeks to provide solutions to market needs through quality, quantity of leading manufacturers and global services committed to the development of the packaging service.
What aspects should we consider when working with monomaterials?
According to INVPack, one of the main players in the market for multi-track machinery for packaging and vertical filling of stick packs and sachets and founding partner of Barcelona Packaging Hub, the main monomaterials used in the packaging sector are paper, polypropylene, polyactic acid and biobased polyethylene, among others. These flexible materials, such as film, incorporate multilayer structures with polyethylene and polypropylene, presenting structures known mainly as Mono PE and Mono PP. A distinction must be made between dry products and rigid containers, such as water or beverage bottles. The former is developed with paper-based materials that include a very thin layer of sealing element, known as Full Paper. The latter are mainly made from PET (polyester).
However, the introduction of monomaterials in packaging companies is not so simple, since the industry must adapt to the characteristics of this new materials technology. One of the aspects to be taken into account is the temperature of these materials related to sealing; temperature, pressure and time, since these are materials that, when exposed to heat, are less stable. When these monomaterials have to interact with external elements such as plugs, the sealing process is more demanding since the sealing temperature difference between the material and the plug is different. As well as improving the optimum barrier properties to adequately protect the products.
The sector has introduced new practices to promote the use of monomaterials, a clear example is Volpak, a world leader in packaging machines for sachet or stand-up pouches and one of the founding companies of Barcelona Packaging Hub. The company has a laboratory available to manufacturers and converters to test the machinability of new materials that are being developed. Most of the machinery manufactured in Volpak is prepared to work with recyclable materials, either monomaterials or paper materials (Full Paper).
This year’s monomaterial forecasts
The challenge for the industry is to achieve the same protection barriers that multilayers have, the market demands it and the industry must respond. For this reason, 2023 will see major advances in the sector. By regulation, from 2030 all packaging used must be recyclable or reusable. Synchropack, co-founder of Barcelona Packaging Hub and specialist in state-of-the-art solutions for packaging automation, says that in 2023 the trends in the flexible packaging sector will be marked by new monomaterials and their development. Increasingly, film manufacturers are focusing on sustainability and the circular economy. This is why monomaterials, monoplastics and flexible paper will continue to be part of new research. The challenge for the industry is to achieve the same protection barriers that multilayers have, the market demands it and the industry must respond. For this reason, 2023 will see great advances in the sector.
Lucas Palma, general manager of Barcelona Packaging Hub, says “We know the way forward to lead partners towards more efficient production. Monomaterials are, and will be, a turning point to lead the packaging sector towards sustainability”.