Working with a number of the UK’s leading packaging experts, the company is in the process of developing prototypes based around a single layered flexible pouch that has barrier and anti-static properties required for packaging paints, coatings and adhesives. Aquapak is now looking for paint manufacturers to provide vital input into the final stages of development of the fully recyclable and biodegradable plastic packaging concept, strong in the belief that it can drastically reduce the amount of used paint containers and cans ending up in landfill or being incinerated.
Mike Everard, Managing Director of Aquapak explains: “Much of the progress in greening the paint and coatings sector has been in reducing the environmental impact of paint at the point of production, and on establishing infrastructure to optimize the recovery and reuse of leftover or waste paint.
“And yet the scale of packaging waste generated by the sector is huge. The British Coatings Federation estimates 78 million plastic containers and 50 million metal tins are used for decorative paint each year. With only a third of Household Waste Recycling Centres accepting waste paint, and by default containers, this results in the majority ending up in landfill sites, being incinerated or simply gathering dust in garages and sheds up and down the country.
“Through commercial trials we're aiming to demonstrate the benefits for the manufacturer, retailer and consumer of a fully recyclable, flexible plastic pouch as an effective, affordable and sustainable alternative to traditional metal tins or plastic containers.”
First and foremost manufacturers should see a reduction in costs; the flexible pouch uses less material compared with traditional packaging and addresses challenges around rising commodity pricing and dwindling natural resources. In addition the pouch is much lighter in comparison and therefore cheaper to transport: less trucks, less fuel and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
The pouch takes up much less space than comparative pots or tins holding the same volume, so retailers will be able to display more of the product range. Additionally important for retailers is that the pouch is unique, there are no similarly packaged paint products currently on the market and therefore customer will be drawn to the point of sale display.
However, it is the pouches’ fully sustainable end of life options that Aquapak hopes will be the pivotal factor in stimulating the switch. It is 100% recyclable in existing waste streams, as well as being completely biodegradable and compatible with anaerobic digestion plants.
Mike continues: “Laboratory tests show that once all the paint is used the pouch can be recycled along with other household plastic items, and collected and sorted by the waste management company at a materials recovery facility. The valuable components of the polymer that the pouch is made from can then be recovered and reused in other products.
“Paint manufacturers have, to date, been limited in ways to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. We believe that providing packaging that offers a circular, end of life solution could be a significant step forward in improving sustainability in the paints and coatings sector.”