New packaging makes smart plastics scalable and affordable as reported at the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE) held at the ICC in Darling Harbour, Sydney.
Aquapak Polymers director Dr John Williams introduced advanced sustainable packaging options, including the global trial of a new functional packaging called Hydropol. Williams explained that there were many obstacles in replacing conventional plastics with something equally functional, affordable, and sustainable.
Hydropol is a clear and flexible food-grade plastic that dissolves in hot water. It is already been used by Australia’s hospital sector – its laundry bags keep nurses and auxiliary staff safe from infection. After it is dissolved Hydropol biodegrades to a benign biomass, carbon dioxide, and water, and can be safely eluted with wastewater. Furthermore, the material is suitable for food packing and combining with other materials to combat barriers in circular plastics economy.
The smart plastic is undergoing extensive trials with partners in Australia, Malaysia and in the UK. Hydropol successfully completed trials, as a standalone packaging film and combined in extrusion coated paperboard. Moreover, Hydropol is compatible with standard plastics manufacturing equipment, as it is designed as a highly functional packaging polymer with sustainable chain.
The versatility of Hydropol means it could offer a mono-material, sustainable alternative to a vast range of currently unrecyclable packaging options. Research organizations are working on marine safety and behavior of the material in the oceanic environment to ensure sustainability claims are properly substantiated. “We are aiming to introduce Hydropol as a smart plastic that enables society to ‘keep calm and carry on’, requiring minimal disruption to global food and medicine supply chains, and providing waste managers with a material they can actually work with,” said Williams.