Aquapak introduces Hydropol, a polymer based on polyvinyl alcohol; product offers gas and grease barrier properties when coated on paper and board packaging, and is 100% repulpable in standard pulping systems

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November 15, 2022 (press release) –

Aquapak is targeting the new European harmonised recyclability validation test methodology launched by CEPI, the European association representing the paper industry, for HydropolTM, its innovative polymer based on Polyvinylalcohol (PVOH).

HydropolTM can be successfully coated on to both paper and board, with proven gas and grease barrier properties, with additional functionality such as heat seal and increased paper sheet strength can also be imparted, making it suitable for a range of packaging uses such as bags and pouches*. Aquapak has already proven that Hydropol coated paper is 100% repulpable in standard pulping systems and can be fully recycled** and it proven to give real improvement when set against current regulations which allow the ‘recyclable’ label to be used if there is up to 15% unrecyclable material in the product.  If littered Hydropol is biodegradable, compostable, as well as being non-toxic and marine-safe. 

Aquapak is now targeting the new CEPI testing protocol for HydropolTM, to ensure it meets the most rigorous standards.  The protocol has been developed in collaboration with actors from the entire paper value chain, including specialised testing laboratories.  A battery of tests were carried out over a nine month period which informed the improvements of the method and the development of three technical annexes. 

The new methodology*** is particularly relevant to the paper packaging industry. Many paper packaging solutions already enjoy high recycling rates but are also increasingly fulfilling new functionalities. These need to be considered by brand owners aiming to reach ever higher performance in terms of circularity and sustainability for their products. Design guidelines and evaluation protocols are developed to support value chain actors in these efforts, with the end goal to make all paper packaging recyclable by 2025 and reach a recycling rate of 90% by 2030. The updated CEPI harmonised recyclability test method offers a solid basis for this work and allows paper products across Europe to be tested for their recyclability in identical conditions.

The new CEPI standards are based on the Italian National Recyclability Standard UNI 11743, which HydropolTM meets.

Dr John Williams, Chief Technology Officer at Aquapak, comments: “We welcome the introduction of these stringent tests by CEPI which are designed to harmonise recyclability validation across Europe and help boost recycling rates, and look forward to the release of the final evaluation protocol.  

“Hydropol has already been proven to be 100% recyclable under test conditions, including the Italian National Recyclability Standard on which the CEPI protocols are based, so we are confident that it will meet these new, advanced standards.  Hydropol is an exciting prospect for brand owners exploring new, sustainable paper-based packaging options as a replacement for conventional polymers which are not as easily recyclable.”

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Notes to Editors

*New Whitepaper: Extrusion Coating with PVOH – aquapak (

**Research demonstrates Hydropol coatings increase paper recycling rates and fibre yield, without compromising functionality – aquapak (


About Aquapak

Aquapak develops and manufactures a range of adaptive polymer-based material technologies that deliver both performance and environmental responsibility at scale. For example, it has developed Hydropol, an enabling technology for the circular economy, which is biodegradable, compostable and marine-safe, and used in a range of packaging materials. Aquapak’s HQ and manufacturing centre is in Birmingham, UK, with its main geographical markets in the US, EU and Asia.

About HydropolTM - Accelerating the transition to the Circular Economy

Hydropol™, developed and produced by Aquapak, can be made into a highly functional oxygen barrier film for complex packaging which is capable of replacing the most widely used oxygen barrier ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), as part of a multilayer structure. However, with its additional properties of strength and sealability and the fact that it is water- soluble, non-toxic and marine safe, means that it offers new opportunities going forward to produce complex barrier packaging which could be recycled or is fully biodegradable, leaving no trace or plastic pollution should they enter the environment.

As an enabling technology, Hydropol™ can be used on its own or in combination with other materials to enhance recyclability, compostability and end-of-life options. Its material properties allow for scalability into diverse types of products and its solubility makes it easy to separate from other materials when recycling. For example, it can be extrusion coated and laminated onto paper or board giving strength and barrier properties against oxygen, oil and grease then made into alternative mailing bags, dry pet food sacks, window patch boxes and packets etc. 

To dispose, consumers can simply put the packaging into their household paper waste. The Hydropol layer is formulated to ‘wash off’ (dissolve) during the paper repulping process and then either biodegrades in the waste water system or turned into clean energy if the plant has an AD system.

Who is using Hydropol?
Consumers and businesses are increasingly concerned about plastic pollution and environmental sustainability. Packaging producers need solutions. Aquapak has partnered with a growing base of clients in apparel, fashion, hospitality, healthcare, food packaging, logistics packaging, industrial, nonwovens, and other packaging. 

What is Hydropol made from?
The base plastic is currently used for dishwasher tablets, ingestible pill casings and soluble stitches.  HydropolTM ‘s resistance to low temperature solubility and high barrier to elements adds functionality, providing a wider range of uses.  It can be recycled, re-pulped, composted and is distinctively compatible with anaerobic digestion.  Furthermore, if unintentionally released into the natural environment, HydropolTM – which is non-toxic and marine safe - will dissolve and subsequently biodegrade, leaving no trace.   

What is Hydropol being used for?
Extrusion coatings and laminates for paper/board applications are commercially available and in customer production trial stages, including a number of home delivery and ecommerce applications, packaging for dried pet food, snacks, cooked meat and convenience food applications.

Blown film products commercially available and made from HydropolTM include garment bags, ESD bags, organic waste disposal bags and laundry bags for infection control.  These can be disposed of at home by the consumer in hot water or added to the recycling where they dissolve during the recycling wash processes. 

Other applications under development with customers and development partners include injection moulded parts such as golf tees, nonwoven fibre for applications such as flushable wet wipes and cellulose combinations for thermoformed trays. 

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