The Versatility of Aluminium Barrier Foil Packaging
Recycling is vital in protecting the environment and creating a sustainable future. Unfortunately, some common misconceptions exist about the recyclability of barrier foil and multi-layer laminate packaging. This protective packaging is recyclable; it just takes a unique facility.
Before going into the recycling process, it is essential to understand why aluminium barrier foil packaging is so important. This packaging material offers a variety of benefits that contribute to its popularity:
- Barrier Properties: Aluminium barrier foil packaging is an excellent barrier against light, oxygen, moisture vapour, and other external elements, preserving the integrity of the products it covers.
- Extended Shelf Life: Thanks to its excellent barrier properties, aluminium foil significantly extends the shelf life of various products, including food and machinery. Thus, reducing food waste and ensuring products reach end-users in optimal conditions.
The Recycling Process of Aluminium Barrier Foil Packaging
The recycling process of aluminium barrier foil packaging is relatively straightforward, making it an economically viable and environmentally responsible choice. Companies like Enval Ltd, located in the UK, are working to revolutionise the recycling process for multi-layer laminates and increase their availability.
The Enval Process
Post-consumer and industrial waste is fed at 350kg per hour (or 2, 000 tonnes annually!). The material then travels through the shredder for size reduction and has the air removed through an airlock. Meanwhile, microwaves are pumped into a reactor, which keeps it from 450-550°C. When the laminated materials enter the oven, the organic materials are heated and broken down without oxygen. This process is called microwave-induced pyrolysis.
The hydrocarbon then travels to a separation tank that condenses the gas to 40℃ and is divided into pyrolytic oil and the non-condensable gas fraction. The gas is used to power the plant, while the oil is distributed and sold. The aluminium is collected and recycled back into the market for further use.
Enval has perfected recycling aluminium barrier foil packaging with this process, leading the way to up to 75% energy savings. Companies such as Nestle in Cuautla, Mexico, in partnership with Greenback Recycling Technologies, are using this process commercially in Latin America, Mexico and other parts of the world.
Looking Towards the Future
The Protective Packaging Ltd. family is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our packaging is recycled sustainably. As we advance, the Recycling 90 code will be printed on our packaging in the UK. This code indicates that the material is made of plastics and aluminium and would need to be recycled using the above process.
The recycling of aluminium barrier foil packaging illustrates sustainability and environmental responsibility. By opting for this type of packaging and ensuring its proper recycling, we can move one-step closer to a world that minimises waste and promotes the longevity of our resources. By embracing recycling and choosing materials like aluminium barrier foil, we create a better future for generations.