There are three things constant in the world: death, taxes and the…stand-up pouch. The stand-up pouch continues to grow in popularity showcasing that it does not yet have an expiration date, but it’s not all good news—issues with recyclability have been a consistent challenge.
Hoping to jump-start a new trend in the pouch market is Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., which has created a fully recyclable stand-up pouch. I recently talked with reps from Dow, as well as the brand Seventh Generation, Burlington, VT, and the converter Accredo Packaging, Sugar Land TX, on Seventh Generation’s first recyclable Dishwasher Pods packaging.
Derrick Lawrence, director of packaging development for Seventh Generation, said that the brand uses the pouch packaging format for its various products, but an issue is that the pouches are not recyclable. Consumers took note of this and asked the company to provide a recycling option.
Dow developed the resins for the recyclable polyethylene stand-up pouch. Stacy Fields, North American director of packaging solutions for Dow, said that the final package is still a multi-layer structure, but it’s all in the PE family. The result is a 100% recyclable package.
Lawrence said there was a “tremendous” amount of work done to to optimize the material to get it to a point where most consumers wouldn’t know the difference between the old pack structure and the new one. For instance, as PE structures are typically cloudier than PET, it was important to have clarity in the material.
The new packaging features SPC’s How2Recycle label, which encourages consumers to take flexible plastic bags, films and wraps to local grocery or retail stores for recycling. The pouches can be recycled at more than 18,000 store drop-off locations throughout North America, which is definitely positive news on the recycling front for pouches.
“It’s great getting the recyclable portion out there and consumers want to participate, but the challenge is they don’t understand what can be recycled,” Lawrence said. “The How2Recycle label makes it very clear. With the same pack being launched in this recyclable structure with the How2Reccycle label…that’s huge. What in the past went to the landfill is now going to be recycled.”
“When you add in the growth of the pouch market, as well as the growth of pouches with multiple materials, it is going to result in more plastic packaging in the landfill if something doesn’t change,” said Malcolm Cohn, director of sustainability, Accredo Packaging. “We believe the all-PE stand-up is an industry changer.”