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Sustainability is a task for the entire packaging industry, regardless of one’s place in the value chain. As a leader in adhesive technologies, Henkel is committed to actively supporting a circular economy by making it possible to return high-quality materials into the loop after use – turning waste back into valuable resources. The adhesives used in packages typically only make up no more than 5 percent of the total weight while their properties can actually make the difference when it comes to the overall recyclability of the material. With its new RE range that is “designed for recycling,” Henkel is introducing a range of adhesives and coatings that both improve the recyclability of flexible packaging and make it possible to use recycled content in new packaging.

 

Turning waste into value: new RE adhesive product range designed for recycling


As an integral player in the packaging value chain, Henkel is dedicated to driving innovations for more sustainability in production and packaging. Additionally, Henkel is a brand owner itself, with first-hand experience with regard to the industry’s needs. 

“With this double role, we are able to leverage our vast experience and know how. We can actively shape the future of a circular economy by evolving the recycling processes together with various partners across the value chain. We are able to test new adhesive solutions directly with our own consumer products to show what they are capable of,” says Marcin Lapaj, Global Business Development Manager for Circular Economy at Henkel Adhesive Technologies. “Therefore, Henkel RE adhesives and coatings are designed particularly with recycling in mind, as they are able to effectively bond multiple compatible layers and have excellent mechanical recycling properties.”

This material compatibility is central to achieve the optimal result in the mechanical recycling process. The new Henkel RE adhesive range can even be used in a closed loop recycling process for flexible packaging.

The solvent-free adhesives and coatings of the RE range are highly suitable for recycling and bonding of recycled plastic films. At the same time, they give excellent results at efficient machine speed, optimal ink compatibility for high-quality printing, high initial tack and room temperature curing. This range of adhesives also improves the quality of recycling of materials in every step of the value chain. 

 

Value chain partnerships for sustainable packaging solutions

The RE adhesives are already in use in different industry pilot projects, showing positive results that underscore their applicability. In partnership with well-known companies and startups, Henkel is excited to present clear examples for more sustainable packaging and recycling.

The RE adhesives are already in use in different industry pilot projects, showing positive results that underscore their applicability. In partnership with well-known companies and startups, Henkel is excited to present clear examples for more sustainable packaging and recycling.

 

Partnering with raw-material supplier ExxonMobil, Henkel has developed a full PE laminated stand-up pouches (SUP) that can be recycled and reused to create new SUPs. The new SUP packages contain up to 30 percent recycled SUP content themselves, including recycled adhesive, and offer performance that is on par with existing packaging. This solution particularly addresses the issues of the recyclability of conventional mono-material laminates, especially when it comes to maintaining the quality of the product partly made out of post-industrial recyclate.

Another promising project is presented together with Borealis. The project features a mono-material pouch with high recycling compatibility and up to 35 percent post-consumer recyclate content. Borealis and Henkel worked closely together to specifically design this packaging with recyclate as raw material and a high suitability for the recycling process after usage. This pouch is planned for use in Henkel’s range of Persil detergent powders in selected regions.

Borealis and Henkel are also working on a pilot for a full PE laminate stand-up pouch that contains both virgin and recycled ingredients with 35 percent post-consumer recycled low density polyethylene (r-LDPE). The prototype is currently being developed and tested by a value chain consortium, with each partner contributing their respective expertise and experience to ensure joint success.

Henkel began working together with the German start-up Saperatec in 2016, with the aim of developing and enhancing customized recyclable adhesives. This collaboration led to the creation of tailor-made adhesives that are compatible with Saperatec’s technology. Together with Henkel, Saperatec offers manufacturers an innovative and cost-efficient recycling technology that makes it possible to reintroduce production waste consisting of polyethylene (PE), aluminum and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into the raw-material cycle, also thanks to the right adhesive design.

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