ZL Comms / Aquapak Press Release 

Aquapak Polymers Ltd has developed a process to produce a multifunctional packaging polymer that is both 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable in standard waste management facilities.

Currently at demonstration phase and with a full-scale production factory on the way, Aquapak is now in talks with retailers, local authorities and the waste sector to explore the material’s potential as a sustainable alternative to conventional and bioplastic films.

Aquapak logo

The patented process from Aquapak Polymers Ltd means that its PVOH polymer can be easily recovered from materials sorting facilities. When treated in water, the polymer dissolves and can then be recovered from solution and repelletised, ready to be returned to manufacturers in a closed loop system.

The development bypasses the difficulties of separating film from rigid plastic, and could replace multilayer packaging on a wide range of consumer products.

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

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, The new plastics economy: Rethinking the future of plastics identified the urgent need for large-scale “moon shot” innovations, such as bio-benign materials designed to facilitate multilayer reprocessing, and ‘superpolymers’ with the functionality of today’s polymers and with superior recyclability.

Initial tests indicate that Aquapak’s PVOH polymer is benign in the environment and non-toxic to marine life, so if recovery for recycling is not required the dissolved polymer can be washed away safely with wastewater. Being FDA-approved it is suitable for packaging food products, overcoming a major hurdle for the market penetration of recycled plastics.

Detailed assessments with a number of key waste management operators have shown that the polymer degrades quickly in anaerobic digestion (AD), meaning depackaging is not a pre-requisite to digestion. Its rapid degradability in the AD process means it could have significant implications for household food waste collections as well as the food manufacturing and packaging sectors.

Mike Everard said: “We are currently in talks with a number of key market sectors. It’s an exciting time for Aquapak as we demonstrate to manufacturers and brand owners that they can now have a strong monolayer plastic that performs well, looks great, and is environmentally sustainable.”

Aquapak Ltd’s  polymer is available as a 6μm – 200μm monolayer and provides a high performance barrier for air, solvents and oils, while being puncture resistant and performing well in drop tests.

A new 50,000 sq ft Aquapak Polymers Ltd factory is currently under construction in Birmingham where it will provide 70 jobs.



Notes to Editors

  • Aquapak Polymers is a developer, manufacturer and distributor of a strong, fully biodegradable and marine safe polymer film capable of replacing standard plastics in a number of everyday applications.
  • WRAP has identified consumer film as one of the two largest untapped sources of recyclable plastic in the UK, with only low levels being recycled.
  • Flexible packaging is popular with brand owners and consumers because it requires less material for production, is lightweight for transportation, and reduces product waste through better protection and portioning. Pouches are the fastest-growing flexible packaging segment yet until now there has been no proper closed-loop recycling system.
  • Aquapak’s polymer overcomes the challenges faced by bio-based plastics since: it does not require large land areas to grow (being oil-based); does not require the addition of harmful additives; is easily identifiable and recoverable from other materials; and breaks down rapidly in waste management processes and the marine environment.
  • The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report The new plastics economy: Rethinking the future of plasticsidentified the urgent need for large-scale “moon shot” innovations, which “could include the development of bio-benign materials; the development of materials designed to facilitate multilayer reprocessing, such as the use of reversible adhesives based on biomimicry principles; the search for a ‘superpolymer’ with the functionality of today’s polymers and with superior recyclability; chemical marking technologies; and chemical recycling technologies that would overcome some of the environmental and economic issues facing current technologies.”
  • Aquapak Polymers Ltd is listed on the Social Stock Exchange. The Social Stock Exchange provides access to the world’s first regulated exchange dedicated to businesses and investors seeking to achieve a positive social and environmental impact through their activities.

Press enquiries: Zoë Lenkiewicz, +44 7720 706155, zoe@zlcomms.co.uk