In a significant breakthrough for the packaging industry, ExxonMobil, in collaboration with industry partners, has successfully developed a fully recyclable thermoformed package with a remarkable 95% PE content.

This achievement marks a significant step forward in creating sustainable packaging solutions without compromising on functionality or optics.

Innovative design and materials

The key to this groundbreaking packaging lies in the careful selection of materials and an innovative design approach. The package consists of a formed bottom web and a Machine Direction Oriented (MDO) PE lid film.

The bottom web, produced using ExxonMobil’s high-performance resins, including Exceed™ XP performance PE and Exact™ plastomer, incorporates a special EVAL™ EVOH resin for thermoforming. The films, crafted on an advanced Alpine 9-layer barrier line, boast exceptional toughness, formability, and high barrier properties.

Thermoforming technology and process

The package’s creation involved state-of-the-art technology, combining ExxonMobil’s best-in-class resins with Alpine’s advanced film production processes.

The MDO technology used in the film production ensures outstanding processability and optimised flatness, contributing to the overall quality of the package.

The package was formed and filled on a MULTIVAC R245 machine, achieving industry-standard process conditions.

The optimised thermoforming trial conditions on the R245 Multivac line resulted in maximum line speeds of over 11 cycles per minute, demonstrating the practical viability of this new packaging design.

Performance evaluation and results

A comprehensive set of tests was conducted to assess the performance of the thermoformed web and lid film.

Notably, the combination of ExxonMobil performance PE and EVAL™ EVOH resins delivered outstanding package integrity, with puncture values comparable to those of traditional thermoformed films containing polyamide (PA).

The lid film, made from MDO PE// PE laminate, exhibited excellent machinability on the MULTIVAC R245 forming and filling machine.

Under optimised thermoforming trial conditions, the new design achieved remarkable results, including maximum line speeds and exceptional corner thickness maintenance.

In a nutshell, this innovative packaging solution, comprising 94-95% PE, sets a new standard in sustainability without compromising package integrity, optics, or machinability.

The successful collaboration between ExxonMobil and its partners highlights a positive stride toward more environmentally friendly and functional packaging options in the market.