Could a ‘100% recyclable’ polymer drive the new plastics economy?

A new packaging polymer is the subject of an article on the website This new packaging polymer is both 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable.

The developers of a packaging polymer that is both 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable in standard waste management facilities claim the new material could help to create a much-needed circular economy for plastic packaging.

The polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) polymer, developed by Aquapak Polymers, effectively bypasses the difficulties of separating film from rigid plastic, and could replace multilayer packaging on a wide range of consumer products.

It can be used to replace pouches and films for the likes of crisp packets, biscuit wrappers and meat packaging, and also to replace the plastic window in paper envelopes and bread bags. The material is an oil, solvent and air barrier – keeping products fresher for longer.

Managing director of Aquapak Polymers Mike Everard said: “The polymer process developed by Aquapak is attracting a great deal of interest from the packaging, retail and waste sectors. As a packaging material it outperforms both cornstarch and many conventional plastics, while also overcoming the usual barriers to recovery and recycling.

Crucially, the FDA-approved polymer is benign in the environment and non-toxic to marine life, and if recovery for recycling is not required, the material is fully dissolvable in water treatment processes and can be washed away safely with wastewater. If it was attached to a rigid plastic tray, for example, it would be easily separable in a materials sorting facility.

This is the latest in a line of innovations that aim to tackle the ever-increasing problem of plastic waste and the resulting marine and environmental contamination.

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