Flexible packaging offers an array of benefits to manufacturers and consumers. It improves product protection to promote freshness and improve shelf life, which reduces waste while providing consumer confidence. It’s also easier to create flexible packaging that stands out on store shelves. Because it is easily customizable, manufacturers can mold the package into virtually any shape, print almost any design, or add features such as spouts or zip locks.
This versatile packaging provides a more sustainable alternative to traditional rigid packaging. It requires less water and energy to create, minimizing environmental impact. One truckload of flat pouches often equals between 15-25 truckloads of empty rigid containers in terms of energy usage.
With the right chemistry, it’s also possible to create flexible packaging solutions that are fully compostable, reducing waste and strain on recycling facilities. EPOTAL CF 430 from BASF is the first water-based compostable adhesive that enables manufacturers to adhere biodegradable film and paper substrates and create compostable flexible packaging.
Sustainability made simple
Flexible food packaging is typically composed of 2 or more films that are laminated together to provide shelf appeal, structural integrity, and barrier properties. The laminating adhesive used must provide ample adhesion that can withstand daily wear and tear.
“From the package integrity standpoint, the adhesive has to be able to provide the physical properties to allow it to be used in these applications, including heat and moisture resistance, as well as resistance to the products that are being packaged,” says David Engel, Sales Account Manager at BASF.
As a modified polyurethane dispersion, one of the key benefits of EPOTAL CF 430 is that it’s coater-ready for gravure coating application methods and is easy to apply with little maintenance, thanks to its low foaming and stable viscosity.
It offers high initial bond strength to enable direct further converting, as well as strong peel values on compostable films and paper.
For improved heat resistance, a polyfunctional isocyanate crosslinker such as BASONAT® LR 9056 can be incorporated.
The push for sustainable
As the first water-based Biodegradable Products Institute certified (BPI) compostable laminating adhesive, EPOTAL CF 430 is unique in its ability to deliver complete composability when used in conjunction with compostable films and paper.
BPI certification according to ASTM D6400 standards requires the material to biodegrade 90% under standard industrial compostable conditions. EPOTAL CF 430 accomplishes this in only 70 days.
“EPOTAL CF 430 checks a box for customers who may be in places where the infrastructure does not yet exist for recyclability,” says Simon Foster, Industry Marketing Manager at BASF. “One of the major challenges is the ability to collect and delaminate the packaging waste that exists in the flexible packaging market, so composability is an important goal for them.”
The demand for sustainable flexible packaging is a result of changing consumer preferences. Flexible plastic packaging accommodates the need for convenience in a visually appealing and durable package, but package recyclability and recycling rates have been a persistent challenge.
Governing agencies around the world have implemented regulations to minimize environmental waste and improve waste management processes. Canada passed the Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste in 2018, while the United States is introducing bills to reduce single-use packaging waste and increase recycling.
“There are a lot of commitments that have been made towards recyclable, bio-renewable or compostable packaging by 2025,” says Foster. “We're getting a lot of traction with EPOTAL CF 430, and we’re expecting it to only increase in demand for these types of sustainable products.”
Compostable in your own home
Sustainable packaging technology and chemistry have come a long way in the past decade, with more innovations being introduced every year.
Compostable adhesives like EPOTAL CF 430 are among the first emulsions that enable fully compostable flexible packaging in industrial conditions, but the next generation may see even greater development in the form of home compostable packaging solutions.
“Our commitment as an organization is to create chemistry for a sustainable future,” says Foster. “We are dedicating significant R&D resources to develop the next generation of these products that would enable home compostability.”
As more infrastructure becomes available and more companies undertake compostable packaging initiatives, you can expect to see more foods and products on store shelves made with compostable materials and additives.
“As the first compostable adhesive on the market, EPOTAL CF 430 allows brand owners to reach their sustainability goals now and for the future,” says Engel. “At BASF, we’re continuing to work towards the next generation of home compostable adhesives that perform and meet the technical needs for food packaging while being sustainable.”
EPOTAL CF 430 and ecoflex® are available now for purchase or trial.
See EPOTAL CF 430