Enabling more circular packaging

Covestro collaboration with SABIC unlocks improved recyclability for mono-material flexible plastic pouches

  • Covestro has developed a new heat-resistant coating for use on mono-material stand-up pouches made with SABIC’s PE/BOPE technology
  • Coating facilitates high-speed industrial production of stand-up pouches made with SABIC® BOPE biaxially oriented polyethylene
  • New solution enables simpler, single-stream recycling
  • Covestro provides key ingredients, raw materials, and expertise for the development of heat-resistant coatings
  • SABIC provides key ingredients, raw materials, and expertise for the development of mono-PE stand-up pouches

Covestro has developed a proof-of-concept heat-resistant coating for use on mono-PE stand-up pouches made with SABIC® BOPE polymer. The coating facilitates the industrial-scale production of BOPE-based mono-material stand-up pouches on horizontal form-fill-seal (HFFS) lines. This innovation paves the way for simple single-stream recyclability of flexible plastic pouches, marking an important step on the way to achieving a circular economy for packaging. Covestro and SABIC will continue their collaboration to further improve and eventually commercialize this product and bring its benefits to brand owners and consumers.

A revolution in packaging materials

Traditional flexible plastic packaging uses multi-material laminates, which are difficult to recycle as it is expensive and time-consuming to separate the different polymer layers. Driven by concern around packaging waste from consumers, governments, and industry, packaged goods brands are looking for more circular solutions. One increasingly popular option is mono-material packaging, made with materials such as BOPE.

BOPE can be used to make flexible packaging in which all the layers are manufactured from PE polymer grades. This packaging can then be recycled in a single stream. However, BOPE-based mono-material stand-up pouches are difficult to manufacture at scale on FFS lines due to their low heat resistance compared with current PET- or PA-containing laminates. To solve this problem, Covestro engineered a heat-resistant coating for mono-PE BOPE-based stand-up pouches. This increases the pouches’ heat resistance so they can be manufactured on high-speed FFS production lines while maintaining high visual and performance qualities. Thanks to Covestro’s new coating, SABIC’s BOPE polymer can be a viable alternative to replace PA and PET containing multi-material laminates for flexible plastic packaging.

"We take our responsibility to create lower-impact packaging seriously. Our circular economy strategy focuses on recyclable solutions that unlock pathways toward closing the loop on materials," explains Davide Reverdito Bove, Sector Marketing Manager at Covestro. "In SABIC, we found an expert partner. This close collaboration will enable us to accelerate the engineering and testing process of our new heat-resistant coating for BOPE with clear benefits for the product quality, the customer, and the planet."

Catalyzing circularity in the packaging industry

Covestro’s heat-resistant coating has several benefits for packaging manufacturers. It prevents heat seal bars from sticking during the sealing stage of the HFFS and VFFS process – allowing for a broader sealing temperature window and eliminating wrinkling and shrinkage. This enables the creation of high-performing mono-material flexible stand-up pouches with simple, single-stream recyclability.

"Thanks to this heat-resistant coating solution for flexible packaging, manufacturers can meet challenges in processing, without compromising on the properties and machinability of the packaging," says Roel Beckers, Sales Manager at Covestro. "It allows a faster switch to mono-PE solutions and the use of the BOPE material as we work with global value chain partners who share our mindset of contributing to a more circular plastics economy."

Covestro innovative heat-resistant coating enables brands, retailers, film producers, and others in the value chain to create new high-performance yet recyclable mono-material packaging – supporting the drive to achieve a circular economy for flexible packaging in Europe and beyond. Although the coating is currently at the proof-of-concept stage, Covestro and SABIC are excited to further develop this innovative solution into a commercial product, helping brands and consumers achieve their sustainability ambitions. By embracing open innovation, both Covestro and SABIC are also committed to working together with the full packaging value chain to accelerate the introduction of more circular packaging solutions to the market.


About SABIC:

SABIC is a global diversified chemicals company, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It manufactures on a global scale in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific, making distinctly different kinds of products: chemicals, commodity and high-performance plastics, agri-nutrients, and metals. SABIC supports its customers by identifying and developing opportunities in key end-use applications such as construction, medical devices, packaging, agri-nutrients, electrical and electronics, transportation, and clean energy.

SABIC recorded a net profit of SR 23 billion (USD 6.15 billion) in 2021. Sales revenues for 2021 totaled SR 174 billion (USD 46.6 billion). Total assets stood at SR 318 billion (USD 84.9 billion) at the end of 2021. Production in 2021 stood at 58 million metric tons. The company has more than 31,000 employees worldwide and operates in around 50 countries. Fostering innovation and a spirit of ingenuity, SABIC has 10,090 patents and pending applications and has significant research resources with innovation hubs in five key geographies – the USA, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and North Asia.

About Covestro:

Covestro is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality polymer materials and their components. With its innovative products, processes and methods, the company helps enhance sustainability and the quality of life in many areas. Covestro supplies customers around the world in key industries such as mobility, building and living, as well as the electrical and electronics sector. In addition, polymers from Covestro are also used in sectors such as sports and leisure, cosmetics and health, as well as in the chemical industry itself.

The company is committed to becoming fully circular and is striving to become climate neutral by 2035 (scope 1 and 2). Covestro generated sales of EUR 15.9 billion in fiscal 2021. At the end of 2021, the company had 50 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 17,900 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).

Forward-looking statements

This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.