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Flexible Coffee Packaging Gets a Jolt of Sustainability

Fres-co System USA’s NextPak flexible coffee packaging is the first ultra-high-barrier package approved for NexTrex store drop-off recycling.

Rick Lingle

June 12, 2023

3 Min Read
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Fres-co System USA

There’s plenty brewing in the flexible packaging market to make this highly efficient packaging format even more sustainable. Specifically, that means not only increasing the range of flexible packaging that’s recyclable, but that is recycled.

To that end, flexible packaging solutions provider Fres-co System USA, Inc. partnered with Trex Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, to further embrace the sustainability of its flexible coffee packaging.

Fres-co’s Nextpak recycle-ready, all-polyethylene gusseted retail coffee packaging, including the innovative degassing valve, received certification for recyclability in the NexTrex Recycling Program.

The program is a sustainability initiative focused on sourcing, collecting, and assessing polyethylene film materials for use in the making of Trex’s high-performance composite decking.

The NexTrex certification makes Fres-co System USA the first single-source flexible packaging provider to have an ultra-high barrier package with a near-zero oxygen transmission rate (OTR) certified in the program.

“This innovation offers our customers the ability to upcycle their consumers’ single-use coffee bags into long-lived construction products, all without any compromise to shelf life or venting performance,” says Ileana Tovaglieri, Fres-co CEO.

“By giving recycled plastic film a second life as high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking, Trex is providing a solution to manufacturers’ plastic waste concerns,” says Dave Heglas, Trex senior director of supply chain excellence. “Our free package testing and labeling initiatives are intended to encourage more manufacturers to participate in the NexTrex program, while ensuring that the plastic material we are collecting meets our high standards for production.”

5 things to know about NextPak flexible coffee packaging.

A Fres-co manager provided the following answers to our questions, edited for clarity.

  1. As a new option for customers, the packaging is designed to replace multilayer film/foil constructions for brands that desire a recyclable packaging option. Those multilayer structures are typically landfilled in the US.

  2. The flexible coffee packaging is available now and trials are underway by customers using Fres-co vertical form-fill-seal packaging machines.

  3. Customers need to work with NexTrex to receive approval to use the store drop-off label on their packaging.

  4. Fres-co says the NextTek packaging has the potential to replace all retail coffee packaging, noting that many brand owners have committed to have 100% recyclable packaging within the next few years.

  5. Fres-Co expects a great deal of interest for products such as coffee that require ultra-high oxygen barrier.

 

NexTek all-polyethylene coffee packaging provides the same barrier as aluminum foil.

In a recent one-year shelf-life study, the Fres-co coffee package was shown to demonstrate no discernable difference in oxygen penetration compared to a legacy aluminum foil package. Fres-co is committed to developing more uncompromising sustainable package offerings and partnering with companies like Trex, who are making recycling widely accessible.

The NexTrex label assures consumers that they have the option to recycle packaging at grocery and retail store drop-off locations across the US.

As one of the largest recyclers of polyethylene plastic film in North America, Trex upcycles approximately 450 million pounds of plastic film, bags, and wraps annually in the making of its world-famous decking. Over the past 30 years, the company has diverted more than 5 billion pounds of polyethylene plastic film from winding up in landfills.

The NexTrex Recycling Program makes it easy for brands to participate in its sustainability efforts. Unlike other recycling labels, the NexTrex label is available at no cost to brands whose packaging has been tested and verified as acceptable for recycling into high-performance Trex decking, which boasts warranties ranging from 25-50 years.

Trex also works with brand owners and companies to encourage promotion and participation at the retail level. As one of the largest store drop-off programs in the country, Trex offers a nationwide infrastructure of store drop-off collection bins and positions signage in stores to drive awareness and engagement in the plastic drop-off program.

To qualify for the certified NexTrex label, product packaging must be tested and validated by Trex, meeting the following three stages of testing:

  • Package/film recyclability;

  • Affect/risk of product contamination; and

  • Affect/risk of nonrecyclable “look-a-like” package contamination.

For the last testing stage, 75% of competitive packaging in the market must also be made of polyethylene plastic to avoid confusion with nonrecyclable materials.

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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