Sustainable plastics manufacturer Aquapak Polymers Ltd, has been shortlisted in not one, but two categories, of one of the UK’s most coveted recycling and waste management awards.
The National Recycling Awards, organised by publishing group EMAP, recognise excellence across the industry and beyond in addressing recycling, reuse and waste reduction.
The judging panel, made up of leading experts from industry, government and academia, shortlisted Aquapak’s process for developing a super polymer in both the ‘waste prevention’ and ‘equipment innovation’ categories.
Aquapak has been developing its groundbreaking polymer over the last six years. Driven by a desire to produce a plastic fit for a circular economy, the company has cracked the chemical process 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.
Aquapak’s material is suitable for a wider range of uses. It is FDA approved and therefore suitable for fresh, dried and frozen foods, portions, packets and pouches, carrier and sandwich bags, ready meal lids, healthcare laundry bags, aprons and gloves, and even paint containers.
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. Other companies shortlisted for waste minimisation include xxxx
Mike Everard, Managing Director for Aquapak Polymers explains: “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. Other companies shortlisted in this category include XXXX
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.
Mike concludes: “We are extremely excited to be shortlisted in two categories of the National Recycling Awards. We firmly believe our innovation has the potential to change the future of flexible plastics, offering multiple end of life solutions for a material that is prolific in residual waste streams and poses a number of challenges for mechanical recycling.”
Aquapak will present to a panel of judges for at the end of May with winners being announced on 28th June at a black tie awards dinner held at the London Hilton, Park Lane.