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RecycleReady Technology from a manufacturer’s view

Maco Pkg examples.
The structure and implementation of RecycleReady Technology is presented in this unique viewpoint from flexible packaging maker Maco Pkg (Newark, NY).

RecycleReady Technology, invented by The Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI), is a sustainable packaging option for flexible films that offers a variety of barrier properties with the additional benefit of recyclability. Packaging with RecycleReady Technology can be integrated into the recycling stream through pre-existing store drop-offs at end of life.

As a custom manufacturer of flexible packaging, Maco Pkg (Newark, NY) offers RecycleReady Technology to customers that have a dedication to sustainability and an appropriate product for implementation. Maco Pkg has offered innovative packaging strategies since WWII, servicing a variety of markets including military, health/beauty, medical/dental, pharmaceutical/nutraceutical, automotive and more, with an emphasis in food and beverage. Maco Pkg, which is ISO 9001:2008, SQF 2000 Level 3 certified, is highly involved with biodegradable material suppliers as well as sustainable packaging technologies.

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A response to brand owners’ input

The industry is well aware of the need for sustainable, recycle-ready packaging. RecycleReady Technology is Maco Pkg’s response to feedback received from brand owners. This recyclable, sustainable packaging option offers most of the same advantages as conventional film, but gains recyclability.

Consumer products, from children’s toys to edibles, are the primary market segment for RecycleReady Technology, with eventual growth into medical and industrial packaging. Within the consumer product segment, food and beverage products would be especially appropriate for the recyclable packaging. 

Specifically, the market has been calling for a recyclable stand-up pouch with a reclosable feature (i.e., a pressure-sealed zipper). In addition to sustainability, a recyclable stand-up pouch has the added advantage of the billboard effect for eye-catching shelf presence.

RecycleReady can be applied to virtually any packaging format as traditional laminate film, offering a diverse range of format, sizes, and options. Specifically, sizes range from 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch single-serve formats up to a 5 lb bag or larger. The format of the packaging will impact the available sizes. As a custom flexible film convertor, Maco Pkg has the ability to offer RecycleReady packaging with side gusset, center seam back fin, flat pouch and more.

RecycleReady structure

Using linear, low density resins, RecycleReady packaging is manufactured with an all-polyethylene structure (PE/PE). Technological advances allow for additional barrier properties. The PE/PE laminate is modified with copolymers, additives and ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) to control the oxygen and moisture transmission rates.

Through advancements in flexible films, RecyleReady film can be manufactured with low, improved, and advanced barrier. To accommodate a variety of applications, manufacturers can control not only the barrier properties but also the processing ability and overall stiffness of the film.

Printing options for RecycleReady film are virtually the same as for conventional film. It can be printed flexographic or rotogravure; trapped or surface printed. Machining for RecycleReady film demands less energy than traditional packaging; it requires less heat (200°F), less time, and less pressure to create a seal.

Next page: Implementation

Other than minor investments in tooling and revised standard processing, Maco Pkg had little to change in machining and storage to make it possible to implement RecycleReady in-house.

“This is something all flexible converters and manufacturers can do. Sustainable packaging needs to change the industry. The entire flexible packaging industry can attain RecycleReady,” says Maco Pkg account executive, Tom Seymour.

Implementation of RecycleReady technology

Cost and minimums represent the greatest challenges to implement this innovative technology. Any time a new packaging technology enters the market, it contains a slightly higher premium than current packaging options. However, the cost of RecycleReady film is a manageable increase. Since the industry won’t accept new packaging unless it’s cost-effective, Maco Pkg is partnering with qualified vendors to help absorb initial fees. Eventually the cost of RecycleReady Technology is expected to fall in line with conventional films once retailers purchase high volume runs.

To help implement this technology and increase awareness, Maco Pkg is working with Dow to allow brand owners to “try it before you buy it”; select retailers can order small runs of RecycleReady Technology for their product, get it into the market, and then see how well the format is received by consumers.

“To date, the film structure for RecycleReady is finalized and ready to move forward,” says Seymour. “We are currently identifying brand owners with a product that’s suitable for this technology who are interested to work with us and produce smaller runs to get it into the market.” 

Tom Seymour is an account executive with   Maco Pkg  , a firm specializing in custom flexible packaging and contract packaging, with a focus on military, industrial, medical and consumer product markets. With a passion for innovation and sustainability, Seymour also serves as the President of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) Western New York Chapter and is the vp for the Associated New York State Food Processors.

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