Date: 18 March 2022
The 4evergreen alliance aims to raise the recycling rate of fibre-based packaging in Europe to 90 percent by 2030. As a new member of this alliance, Kuraray is now contributing its experience, for example, to develop uniform Europe-wide recycling standards.
Hattersheim, March 17, 2022. Fibre-based packaging is a sustainable alternative to glass, metal and plastic. In particular, paper and cardboard have benefits for recycling. According to the European Union, across Europe 82 percent of paper and cardboard is already recycled. The 4evergreen alliance aims to make even better use of the recycling potential and increase the recycling rate of fibre-based packaging to 90 percent by 2030 - an important step towards a climate-neutral and sustainable world. To achieve this, the initiative brings together companies from across the value chain.
Global speciality chemicals producer Kuraray, which has its European headquarters in Hattersheim, Germany, has now become a member of the alliance, reinforcing their commitment to sustainability. Kuraray markets a wide range of materials that can greatly improve the performance of fibre-based packaging, for example, the Eval™ brand of EVOH copolymers, Plantic™, a starch-based thermoplastic made from renewable raw materials, and the Kuraray Poval™ brand of PVOH polymers. These polymers can be used to produce packaging paper with an excellent gas barrier.
“Efficient recycling plays a central role in tackling the environmental and climate challenges of the coming years,” says Dr. Naomi Winckelmans, Account Manager and Technical Service Lab Engineer at Kuraray’s Belgian subsidiary EVAL Europe N.V. “Many companies already use fibre-based materials for demanding packaging solutions and the trend will gain momentum in the future. As a cross-industry alliance, 4evergreen is developing guidance for packaging design and circularity that will greatly improve the sustainability profile of packaging in the future. That's an important step for environmental protection and the climate. As a leading speciality chemicals producer, we’re happy to play our part and support our partners in the industry.”
Cross-sector cooperation for efficient recycling
The 4evergreen alliance was created in 2019 from an initiative launched by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi). Today, around 90 leading companies from all areas of the packaging chain are involved in this project: from pulp, paper and packaging producers to recycling firms. The alliance also includes representatives of science and research, technology providers from the machinery industry and well-known manufacturers of branded goods. Four workstreams are developing a standardized recyclability evaluation protocol for fibre-based packaging, guidelines for the design of recyclable packaging and standards for efficient collection and sorting of packaging waste, as well as investigating innovative technologies.
Packaging for a fully circular system
Kuraray is involved in all workstreams. In particular, it can contribute its expertise to the development of the recyclability evaluation protocol and the circularity-by-design guidelines for fibre-based packaging. “We have a great deal of experience in the development of materials with high oxygen barrier properties for the packaging industry. Many of our polymers allow the production of high-performance packaging with a good sustainability profile,” says Jens-Mikael Gottberg, Regional Marketing Manager at Kuraray Poval. “Our Exceval™ water-based PVOH coatings are an excellent example. This copolymer give paper packaging an excellent barrier to oxygen, grease and oil and can be used in food packaging that is fully recyclable in the paper recycling system. Exceval™ is already used for other applications in the paper industry and can be integrated well into established circular systems.”
Another product in Kuraray’s portfolio that contributes to more sustainable packaging is the extrudable barrier material Eval™. Multilayer packaging with this polymer can be processed efficiently in existing recycling systems, providing they have the necessary separation systems. Kuraray also produces Plantic™, an effective barrier film made from up to 80 percent renewable raw materials such as corn starch. “Our products offer a wide range of options for sustainable and efficient packaging design,” says Jens-Mikael Gottberg. “As a member of the 4evergreen alliance, we will be working with partners from industry on a harmonized recycling evaluation protocol and packaging guidelines for the whole of Europe. That will enable us to use the potential of our products even better and jointly develop packaging that meets the requirements for functioning circular systems. This cross-sector approach is an opportunity to come up with first-class solutions.”
4evergreen is a cross-industry alliance perfecting the circularity of fibre-based packaging to contribute to a climate-neutral and sustainable society. Our goal is to raise the overall recycling rate of fibre-based packaging to 90% by 2030. We bring a particular focus on packaging with a lower circularity performance today, namely the types used for household, out-of-home and on-the-go consumption.
The alliance brings together industry representatives from across the fibre-based packaging value-chain, from pulp, paper and board manufacturers and recyclers to packaging producers and converters, including brand owners, retailers, and waste management companies. It also comprises non-fibre material suppliers (e.g., adhesives, inks, coatings), technology providers (e.g., machinery, collection, and recycling solutions), and leading research institutes.
To date, 4evergreen brings together around 90 market leaders representing all the players of the fibre-based packaging value chain (find a list of members here). The host of the initiative is Cepi (the Confederation of European Paper Industries), headquartered in Brussels.