Recyclability of active and intelligent packagings
Active barrier layers protect the product, smart labels are intended to indicate the freshness of products, RFID tags are used as anti-theft protection and information carriers. Such active and intelligent packagings do not yet have any large significance in the packaging market, but this can change rapidly.
The complex structure and material composition of active and intelligent packagings affect their recyclability. Working on behalf of the Federal Environmental Agency, bifa Umweltinstitut, together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and packaging (IVV) in Freising, is analysing current and future challenges in the recycling of active and intelligent packagings.
The project includes the characterisation, clustering and forecasting of the use of active and intelligent packagings. Active systems are already supplementing some uses of plastic packagings in the food sector, for example, to protect the contents from oxygen or moisture. Intelligent materials in packaging applications are RFID tags and indicator labels, which show changes in the packaging.
In all process steps, from the sorting and recovery of the used packagings through to the use of secondary products, handling and objective conflicts can occur, which stand in the way of high-quality recovery of active and intelligent packagings. bifa analyses the potential effects and challenges which these packagings represent for the recovery processes. On this basis, recommendations are drawn up to ensure high-quality recovery with regard to packaging design and disposal technology.
The recyclability of packaging is defined during its development. The study is therefore intended to stimulate exchange between the packaging industry, the recycling industry and science, in order to create positive effects for the design of recyclable packagings. The work of bifa and IVV is the starting point for a dialogue event between producers and disposers, organised by the Federal Environmental and to be held in the spring of 2016.