Joint Pilot Testing Launches for Horizontal Recycling of Flexible Packaging Film

3 August 2023

Mitsui Chemicals Tohcello and Mitsui Chemicals (Tokyo: 4183) have announced the launch of pilot testing this month for horizontally recycling printed BOPP film back into new flexible packaging film.

Through this joint pilot testing initiative, the three companies aim to establish technologies and operational infrastructure for the horizontal recycling of flexible packaging materials, as well as leverage network growth in the flexible packaging materials industry to advance and expand the horizontal recycling of flexible packaging film.

The Japanese Government’s Resource Circulation Strategy for Plastics includes a target of transitioning to reusable or recyclable plastic designs by 2025. Milestones under the strategy for 2030 include that 60 percent of plastic containers and packaging should be reused or recycled, and that the recycling of plastic resources should be doubled. With 2025 as an important starting point toward those milestones, it will be essential to expand efforts for reuse and recycling on the way to 2030.

In May 2022, Mitsui Chemicals launched RePLAYER™ Renewable Plastics Layer System, an initiative that aims to recover film waste from flexible packaging material converters, remove any ink from it, turn the remaining material into pellets and turn those pellets into new flexible packaging film. Then in December 2022, Toppan, Mitsui Chemicals Tohcello and Mitsui Chemicals began discussing the basis of the joint pilot testing announced today.

Fiscal 2023 now marks the beginning of full-fledged joint pilot testing, with BOPP film waste – generated by Toppan from processes such as printing adjustment – being recovered by Mitsui Chemicals, which also removes the film waste’s printing and converts it into pellets that are in turn made into recycled BOPP film by Mitsui Chemicals Tohcello. Toppan is also evaluating the recycled BOPP film’s quality, with a particular eye toward its suitability for the likes of printing, lamination, and the creation and filling of flexible pouches. The lamination process here makes use of eco-friendly adhesive from Mitsui Chemicals.

Through this initiative, the three companies aim to have this technology implemented in society by fiscal 2025 in line with the milestone laid out by the Ministry of the Environment’s Resource Circulation Strategy for Plastics.