Saperatec
Prototype based on its groundbreaking multi-layer delamination technique

Saperatec, a developer of recycling processes for composite packaging of various materials, will debut a fully circular flexible packaging prototype based on its groundbreaking multi-layer delamination technique at the K Fair Trade Show, October 19-26 in Düsseldorf. Saperatec engineers will showcase and discuss a detergent package which, at 35% post-consumer recycled content (PCR), meets goals proposed for the pending EU Directive on Packaging & Packaging Waste.

Among the first consumer flexible packaging materials made from PCR waste, the prototype is produced in collaboration with two prominent partners: Germany-based packaging film supplier Wentus – whose mono-polyethylene flexible packaging design allows for easy recyclability – and adhesives, sealants and functional coatings provider Henkel, which supplies the package’s recycling-optimized adhesive. Notably, Henkel made a significant investment in Saperatec in 2019, which helped make the forthcoming plant a reality. Currently marketed by Wentus as Wentoplex Pure R, the marketing design recently received 18 of 20 points from Germany-based recycling alliance Interseroh.

The prototype is made possible by a new technology: Saperatec’s extended mechanical recycling process for thin-layer composite materials, which results in virgin-similar recyclates. A two-layer design made entirely from polyethylene (PE), its inner sealing layer comprises more than 50% PCR rLDPE (recycled low density polyethylene) from beverage carton waste. Its outer layer is printed with less than 50% surface coverage, and laminated with Henkel’s optimized adhesive for recyclability. Overall, the packaging will contain at least 35% PCR rLDPE – in line with the proposed recommendations for the EU Directive regarding non-food packaging.

A new approach to an old problem

Of the more than 140 million tons of plastics packaging waste produced globally each year, a significant portion comprises composite packaging, which consists of a combination of materials. Such packaging has posed sizable obstacles to recycling efforts, as separating composite packaging into its various origin materials has been technologically challenging and, even when successful, unsustainable due to the need for non-ecofriendly chemicals.

Saperatec’s novel approach results in recycled materials that can replace virgin raw materials in numerous applications, including film or foil-based packaging. Importantly, the process adds no contaminants to recycled polymers, and all chemicals used in the process comply with EU food contact regulations. Its technique is applicable for composite packaging comprised of various combinations of plastic, metal, and glass.

With the technology extensively tested in materials science labs and near-industrial pilot environments, Saperatec is currently building its first recycling plant for composite packaging in Dessau, Germany. In 2023, the facility will commence commercial operations with an initial goal of processing about 18,000 tons of packaging waste per year.

Saperatec’s composite packaging recycling brings the potential to separate and reintegrate a wide variety of substrates into the packaging stream. Initially, Saperatec will focus on composite flexible packaging materials and tube packaging with aluminum foil barriers, as well as plastics and aluminum from beverage cartons. Beyond that, Saperatec’s technology opens the door for future recyclability solutions in a wide range of composite packaging.

Saperatec’s recycling process is itself sustainable. The hot-wash separation fluids utilized are water-based and solvent-free, and are reused more than 30 times in the process. Any and all materials employed during the packaging recycling are listed for food contact materials without specific migration limit, as per European regulations.

About Saperatec

Saperatec develops wet-mechanical recycling processes for thin-layer composite materials made of plastic, metal and glass. At its site in Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt, the company is building its first recycling plant for composite packaging made of plastic, aluminum and paper.

Beginning in 2023, approximately 18,000 tons of packaging waste will be processed at Saperatec’s facility every year, resulting in high-quality, reusable aluminum and plastic recyclates. Through technology advancements, the company aims to make important contributions to improving the sustainability of high-performance composite materials.

About Wentus

‘Think. Create. Protect.’ This is the guiding principle under which, Based in Höxter, Germany, Wentus develops and produces flexible packaging solutions to protect products in the food and consumer goods industries. Founded in 1965, the company employs around 280 people and operates a robust R&D department to consistently develop new solutions that combine maximum product protection, specialized sustainability and enhanced efficiency, as well as optimising processes and technologies.

Wentus’ flat hierarchies and completely in-house production chain enable the expedited solutions, including high-tech skin films, addressing a wide range of requirements. The company has internal and representative sales teams in the DACH region, Benelux, France and the UK.

About Henkel

Henkel operates globally with a well-balanced and diversified portfolio. The company holds leading positions with its three business units in both industrial and consumer businesses thanks to strong brands, innovations and technologies. Henkel Adhesive Technologies is the global leader in the adhesives market – across all industry segments worldwide. In its Laundry & Home Care and Beauty Care businesses, Henkel holds leading positions in many markets and categories around the world.

Founded in 1876, Henkel looks back on more than 140 years of success. In 2021, Henkel reported sales of more than 20 billion euros. The company employs about 53,000 people globally – a passionate and highly diverse team, united by a strong company culture, a common purpose, and shared values. As a recognized leader in sustainability, Henkel holds top positions in many international indices and rankings. Henkel’s preferred shares are listed in the German stock index DAX.

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