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Closing the loop for paper-coated packaging and serviceware: now compostable AND recyclable with Luminy® from TotalEnergies Corbion

20 September 2021

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TotalEnergies Corbion

TotalEnergies Corbion has demonstrated that paper-coated applications with Luminy® PLA can now not only be certified compostable, but also recyclable. The new development adds an additional, previously unattainable end-of-life option for applications based on coated paperboard/paper such as coffee cups and take-out containers, ensuring valuable resources can be reused as new products.

Paperboard applications coated with traditional, oil-based plastics had the drawback that the plastic needed to be separated from the paper before recycling can take place, otherwise the polymer can interfere with the recyclability of the paper. For this reason, many applications were not recycled but instead incinerated or landfilled as there was no other end-of-life option available.

TotalEnergies Corbion has demonstrated that paperboard coated with Luminy® PLA does not interfere with the pulpability or recyclability of the paper. Coating a paperboard application with Luminy® PLA therefore, not only enables the widely used industrial composting end-of-life option (EN13432), but now also supports mechanical/material recyclability within existing recycling streams. Mechanical recycling is featured higher up on the end-of-life waste hierarchy, as the valuable resources in the product are retained for further use. The recyclability of the PLA-coated paperboard was certified by Western Michigan University and the paperboard samples for the trial were provided by Metpack, who are specialized in extruded barrier coated food grade paper boards.

Luminy® PLA can be applied on conventional paperboard extrusion lines at competitive speeds. Using a PLA-coating allows for a fully biobased solution with excellent seal strength and printability that does not require pretreatment. As PLA is a polar material like paper, outstanding adhesion can be achieved. Applying a PLA-coating results in good flavor and aroma barrier and excellent grease and mineral oil resistance. Furthermore, TotalEnergies Corbion has demonstrated that Luminy® PLA-coated paperboard can now also be used for ready-to-eat containers that need to be reheated in the microwave or oven, thereby expanding the application window even further.

Jenifer Mitja, Application Specialist at TotalEnergies Corbion, led the project: “At TotalEnergies Corbion, we are passionate about developing applications together with our customers to reach new levels of production efficiency, product performance and sustainability milestones. By proving the recyclability of PLA coated paperboard, we’ve gained an additional and even more valuable end-of-life option which the whole value chain can benefit from”.

Aykut Güleryüz, Production Manager at Metpack, is pleased that they can now offer even greater solutions to their customers: “Proving the recyclability of PLA in coated paperboard applications is a fantastic way to keep valuable resources in use for future product lifecycles, and we are very pleased to present this solution to our customers”.

Thomas Philipon, CEO at TotalEnergies Corbion recognizes the achievement: “Packaging in general is under quite some pressure from both consumers and governments around the world to be more sustainably managed. The ability to recycle PLA-coated paperboard empowers brand owners, retailers, hospitality outlets and waste management companies to work with a biobased packaging solution that can be either composted or recycled depending on what is most environmentally efficient for that specific application. We are extremely proud to be contributing even further towards driving the circular economy forward”.

For more information on how to make the switch to biobased PLA, please contact us.

Photo 1: The paperboard samples for the trial were produced and provided by Metpack, pictured above (photo courtesy of Metpack).

Photo 2: The recyclability of the Luminy® PLA-coated paperboard was certified by Western Michigan University, pictured above (photo courtesy of WMU).

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TotalEnergies Corbion

Stadhuisplein 70
4203 NS Gorinchem
The Netherlands
T +31 183 695 695