The partnership will determine the recyclability of Gualapack’s monomaterial polypropylene spouted pouch across all stages of treatment of a DKR rigid PP waste stream
Pre-made spouted pouches provider Gualapack has collaborated with Tomra, a provider of technology-led solutions that enable the circular economy, on a full-scale recycling trial.
The partnership will focus on determining the recyclability of Gualapack’s monomaterial polypropylene (PP) spouted pouch across all stages of treatment of a DKR rigid PP waste stream.
The company’s monomaterial polypropylene spouted pouch was proven recyclable in a context of full-scale sorting and recycling infrastructure, said Gualapack.
Both firms will study how one of Gualapack’s products can be automatically managed for recycling in the rigid PP (polypropylene) stream. The product combines monomaterial laminates and semi-rigid multi-layer components.
Gualapack sustainability manager Michelle Marrone said: “It was 2018 when I first met Jürgen and TOMRA. At Gualapack, we were busy tackling the challenge of designing a monomaterial spouted pouch that had to resist hot-filling, pasteurisation, and maintain its barrier properties 12 months on the shelf.”
Under the first step, Gualapack pouches with different percentages have been added to rigid PP waste.
Later, the products were processed using Tomra’s Autosortsensor-based sorting machine, which proved pouches are well identified as a PP material with more than 80% redirected to the rigid PP stream.
Following this step, a waste PP bale with 5% additional pouches and a bale without any pouches were compared in a back-to-back trial, which passes them through all the steps of a standard recycling process.
Initially, the product was shredded into flakes and hot washed with water and sodium hydroxide at 85 °C (185 °F).
It was then post-sorted through a second Autosort Flake machine to further enhance the quality of the material. The two bales have been extruded on an industrial scale extruder and pelletised back to PP.
Tomra circular economy business development SVP Jürgen Priesters said: “After development of the new pouches, and to determine whether these could be sorted with optical sorters, we added a significant amount of them to a combined separate source and mixed waste stream sorting plant for automated sorting.”
Gualapack is engaged in the manufacturing of laminates, caps and pouches for baby food, snacks, pharmaceutical products, as well as a range of other applications.
Tomra offers technology-led solutions and established processes and market knowledge to enable circular economy solutions via advanced collection and sorting systems.