Aquapak joins CEFLEX to promote a circular economy for flexible packaging in Europe by 2025; company's Hydropol polymer is based on PVOH and is compatible with PE, PP mechanical recycling when used as a barrier material in packaging

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June 1, 2023 (press release) –

Thursday 1 June 2023


Aquapak Polymers, the material technologies business which has developed HydropolTM, a polymer based on PVOH, has joined The Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX)1 initiative – a collaboration of over 180 European companies, associations and organisations representing the entire value chain of flexible packaging2.  Its mission is to make all flexible packaging in Europe circular by 2025.

Membership of CEFLEX will allow Aquapak Polymers to promote the circular economy benefits that HydropolTM provides by ensuring that all flexible packaging is effectively and responsibly recycled by developing robust ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ guidelines so that packaging materials are returned to the economy at the quantity, quality and price for end market applications.  

HydropolTM is an enabling technology for the circular economy and can be used as a mono-material or in combination with a range of other materials – it is recyclable, biodegradable, compostable with no adverse impacts on the marine environment.  HydropolTM can be successfully coated on to plastics, as well as paper and board where it has proven gas and grease barrier properties, with additional functionality such as heat seal and increased paper sheet strength, making it suitable for a range of packaging uses such as bags and pouches.

Hydropol™ is a thermoplastic polymer, so can be mechanically recycled back into pellets for reuse. This works well in closed capture loops, such as retail, where Hydropol™ can be collected in bulk. In mixed household plastics recycling, Hydropol™ can be identified and separated using Infra-Red during sorting.  If this is not available, then hot water will dissolve the Hydropol™ resin, allowing recovery of packaging materials without contaminating plastic streams. 

Based on CEFLEX’s Designing for a Circular Economy Guidelines which gives practical support and advice on circular economy design principles, Hydropol™, when providing barrier properties for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), it is compatible with today’s CEFLEX guidelines for levels up to 5% by weight (its chemistry of Hydropol  is very similar to EVOH) and is deemed compatible with PE and PP mechanical recycling. In addition, CEFLEX is currently evaluating test data from accredited laboratories to confirm that Hydropol™ is suitable for polyolefin waste streams. 

Mark Lapping, Chief Executive Officer, at Aquapak, said: “We are pleased to be part of the CEFLEX initiative and its drive to make flexible packaging circular by 2025.  The reality of most standard recycling plants across the globe is that currently they concentrate on two or three plastics that have the largest quantities and therefore the most value when recycled (such as PET).  Hydropol, which is non-toxic and marine safe, is compatible with current recycling infrastructure and offers the industry a way to protect resources and the planet.”

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Notes to Editors

1 CEFLEX | A circular economy for flexible packaging
2Flexible packaging is a means of packaging products through the use of non-rigid materials, using a variety of flexible materials, including foil, plastic, and paper, to create pouches, bags, and other pliable product containers. Flexible packages are particularly useful in industries that require versatile packaging, such as the food and beverage, personal care, and pharmaceutical industries.

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. 

Clare Anderson
mobile: +44 (0)7958 665 883 telephone: +44 (0)208 870 6412
twitter: @ClareLooker

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