Aquapak shortlisted for two National Recycling Awards

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Sustainable plastics manufacturer Aquapak Polymers, has been shortlisted in two categories for the National Recycling Awards.

The awards are organised by publishing group EMAP, acknowledging achievements in recycling, reuse and waste reduction.

The judging panel, made up of leading experts from industry, government and universities, shortlisted Aquapak’s process for developing a super polymer in Waste Prevention and Equipment Innovation categories.

Aquapak has been developing its ground-breaking polymer over the last six years, to maintain the environmental advantage and solubility of Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH), while drastically improving its strength and functionality.

PVOH is already well-used in applications including eye drops and laundry detergent pouches. By refining and modifying the PVOH production process, Aquapak has successfully developed a resin that can be converted into flexible film that is at least twice as strong as comparable plastic, but offers multiple end of life solutions.

The polymer can be made in a range of weights and thicknesses, and can be printed directly on without treatment. Once used, it can be collected in residual waste streams and recycled, is fully biodegradable (being compatible with both anaerobic and composting facilities), and non-toxic if it enters the rivers or waterways.

The waste prevention category of the National Recycling Awards acknowledges those technologies, products and processes designed to reduce waste. There has already been significant interest in Aquapak’s material from leading food brands and retailers. Once the material goes into full production and demand increases, it will have a marked impact on reducing plastic packaging waste.

Mike Everard, Managing Director for Aquapak Polymers, said: “Flexible plastics are notoriously difficult to recycle, because they are either contaminated with foodstuffs, or act as a contaminant to other materials, as is the case with sandwich box windows and ready meal film lids.

“The key with PVOH is that it dissolves in water, so in a waste management process it is neither contaminated nor contaminating. Also, because it dissolves, it doesn’t cause problems with machinery.”

In the category for equipment innovation the judges acknowledged the patented process developed by Aquapak to recover the dissolved polymer from solution, via a chemical recycling process, and repelletise it on-site making the flexible plastic 100% recyclable.

Aquapak’s resin has been specifically designed to work in standard polyethylene machines, so production can be scaled up quickly as demand for the material increases, without the need for manufacturers to invest in new equipment.

Recycling Awards winners will be announced on 28th June at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel, London.

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