Jerry Scott Mills
While no silver bullet exists that can totally replace wax, advances in water-based emulsion coatings are delivering new moisture barrier solutions with eco-friendly recyclability. That news piques interest in coated containers in the wake of marketing initiatives from the plastic crate industry.
David Andrews, executive director of Paper Packaging Canada, is positive about developments in water-based coating products and processes. From an environmental aspect, the entire marketing chain increasingly prefers packaging that offers recyclability or repulpability. Because used wax-coated containers are neither recyclable nor repulpable, their disposal adds to the landfill burden, with dumping charges borne by the retailer.
In a seminar for Paper Packaging Canada members and Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC) affiliates, several speakers described how wax-replacement technologies are reducing wax contamination at recycling mills.
Serge Desgagnes, Kruger Paper product specialist, says that in the immediate future, containers coated with water-based emulsions will be clearly identified as “old container board” (OCC) that is repulpable and recyclable into high-quality fibre suitable for new paper and its conversion into corrugated board.
He introduced the Recyclable Non-Wax Coating Symbol, an important cost-reduction signal to retailers who will no longer have to pay waxed-box disposal charges for containers carrying the new logo.
Tony Kadai, independent packaging consultant, presented examples of new water-based coatings that can actually outperform traditional wax-based alternatives. He emphasized the flexibility and complexity of water-based coatings that can deliver moisture-barrier protection with transportation and marketing advantages, as well as ultimate recyclability.
In his seminar wrap-up, Tony Kadai presented specific examples of performance-proven containers using recyclable wax-replacement coatings in a variety of grower applications. Market segments included floral, greenhouse and fresh produce, with additional new applications under continuing development.
Displaying an emulsion-coated shipper with the recyclable symbol imprinted, David Andrews added, “It will be every member's task to convey this capability to our customers and promote use of the symbol where appropriate.” He noted that applying the logo correctly and monitoring its use will entail a “working partnership” between client and supplier.
Working in tandem with growers requiring moisture-impermeable containers, suppliers will evaluate new options using wax-replacement coatings. Where a solution proves suitable, a
recyclable non-wax coating symbol will be printed on the boxes or trays. The result: proper identification and sorting of the used board with cost-savings for retailers, and problem-free recycling at the mill level.