- New Jersey-based packaging and label maker LPS Industries recently wrote an essay to say that there never was one "silver bullet" for recycling flexible packaging and multiple options should be explored, as reported by Recycling Today.
- One example given is that polyethylene shopping bags may be simple to recycle, but when polyethylene is combined with other materials to increase moisture protection in multi-layer packaging it can't be recycled through the same type of system.
- LPS says that recycling may not be the most practical solution for some multi-layer packaging and says the material may be better handled through waste-to-energy options such as gasification.
LPS Industries has been in business since 1959, but started moving toward products with more recycled and biodegradable material over the past 10 years. They also switched to a solvent-free lamination process which eliminated disposal issues around volatile organic compounds and have taken other steps to adapt to changing packaging methods.
While more programs have become available for recycling basic polyethylene products such as shopping bags and bread bags, multi-layer products have still proven challenging. Earlier this summer, Dow Chemical Co. announced a new type of polyethylene-based barrier packaging that can be used for products such as granola and nuts, and has proven to be recyclable in material recovery facilities.
Researchers have also been looking into new biodegradable or edible packaging which could help reduce the need for these types of challenging multi-layer products. Whether or not this type of packaging ever becomes mainstream in stores, it makes sense to look at alternative disposal methods such as waste-to-energy to capture the most possible value from what is currently available.