An innovative polymer that is claimed to produce a multifunctional packaging material that is 100% recyclable and dissolves safely in water is being developed by UK based, eco packaging specialists Aquapak Polymers.

When treated in water, the oil-based polymer dissolves and can then be remoulded into pellets ready for remanufacturing. According to the company if left dissolved in waste water the material is benign to the environment and non-toxic to marine life.

While the technology is currently at demonstration phase, a full-scale production unit is on its way and Aquapak says it is already in talks with retailers, local authorities, and the waste sector about using the new polymer commercially. It has also been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning it can be used for food packaging.

The innovation could have significant implications for household food waste collections as well as the packaging and manufacturing sectors, Aquapak said.

For example, removing plastic packaging from food waste is one of the most time consuming – and expensive – parts of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, however thanks to this new packaging polymer it could be a thing of the past. The polymer completely biodegrades during the anaerobic digestion process – meaning fully packaged waste food can be directly added to the digestor with no need for pre-processing.

“The polymer process developed by Aquapak is attracting a great deal of interest from the packaging, retail and waste sectors,” Mike Everard, managing director of Aquapak Polymers, said in a statement. “As a packaging material it outperforms both cornstarch and many conventional plastics, while also overcoming the usual barriers to recovery and recycling.”

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