Close the Loop packaging wins top global sustainability award

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Close the Loop Limited has won the Diamond Award for the 2021 Dow Packaging Innovation Awards – the top global sustainability award for packaging.

The award was for a high-barrier, kerbside recyclable muesli pouch for Brookfarm using the Roll ‘n’ Recycle program – a first in Australia for kerbside recycling.

Close the Loop also won the Gold Award for using re-useable content in spout pouch packaging for its client Zero Co. The pouch is reusable at a commercial level, allowing consumers to return the pouch to Zero Co after use to be sanitised, refilled and reused again in a circular economy.

While celebrating the award wins, Joe Foster, Chief Executive Officer Close the Loop Group highlighted the challenge around recycling and sustainability and what industry needs to do to address it.

“Around the world almost US$3 trillion per year of additional capital investment is required to meet increasing sustainability metrics, with continued high landfill rates for plastic and print consumables,” he said.

“Australia’s target of recycling or composting 70 per cent of plastic packaging by 2025 is achievable, but industry strategies, especially in soft plastics, and consumer behaviour need to change. Industry bodies must work together from packaging companies, brand owners, retail chains and recycling companies to find a solution.

“This should not be a race to the top for any individual company but a collective approach from innovation and product development to collection and reuse, as we need the solution to be successful for all parts of the circular economy.”

Close the Loop is pioneering the creation of packaging from single polymers, which provides better packaging-to-packaging capability while meeting stringent quality standards.

Single polymers were key in the kerbside recyclable pouch for Brookfarm that took out the top award. The high-barrier pouch for muesli is made from a single or mono type of plastic polymer (Polyethylene-PE), eliminating the need for complex multi-laminates that hinder the ability for packaging to be recovered.

Close the Loop worked with Brookfarm for more than 12 months to create the pouch. They had to ensure the same shelf life as the previous packaging and the same level of product protection for the muesli that contained a variety of quality ingredients.

In addition, Close the Loop introduced the innovation of Roll ‘n’ Recycle. A matching PE label is adhered to the pack at time of manufacture to allow consumers to roll the empty pack into a 3-dimensional shape (eliminating issues with recycling machinery) and place into their kerbside recycling bin at home, eliminating the need for consumers to take the pack to a soft plastics recovery location.

The project faced many challenges requiring expertise across the packaging, label, and adhesive areas. Collaboration with key partners such as Result Group and PREP Design in Australia provided the opportunity for research and development on the project to ensure the packaging format and label combination would perform as required and remain 3D enough to move through the recycling process.

The project has been submitted to the Australian Packaging Convent organisation (APCO) for acceptance into the national recycling label program (Australasian Recycling Label or ARL), which will provide further communication and explanation to end consumers in line with current government-back initiatives in the labelling space.

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