Polymer packaging materials – friend or foe of the Circular Economy (in English)
Polimery 2020, No 1, 3
Plastic packaging is a product of short-term use and becomes waste after use. For most packages made of homogeneous polymeric material, there is no problem with their recycling. The packaging used for food packaging and storage, for example, multilayer foils, considerably reduces food losses. However, due to their complex multi-polymer structure, it is significantly more difficult to recycle it. Currently, in this case there are almost no technologies that are effective enough to be both cost-effective for recyclers and not burden the environment. Leading companies from the plastics industry in cooperation with food and packaging producers are working on solutions that will improve the suitability for recycling of multi-layer packaging while maintaining high level of food protection. Huge hopes are connected with nanotechnology and nanomaterials that enter the packaging market, mainly nanocomposites, and particularly ideally, if it would be biodegradable bionanocomposites. However, new packaging materials based on nanocomposites are bringing potentially new problems for recycling. The paper presents the issues related to meeting the requirements of Circular Economy by multilayered packaging materials based on traditional polymers and alternative materials of the new generation introduced to the packaging market.