Printing ink and coatings leader Siegwerk has announced a breakthrough in sustainable pet food packaging.

Partnering with printing machine manufacturer Windmöller & Hölscher and bag-making and machine producer B&B, Siegwerk has developed a fully recyclable monomaterial pouch for dry pet food using its CIRKIT functional coatings.

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This innovation addresses increasing pressure from EU regulations on packaging circularity.

“New approaches are needed to meet the upcoming regulatory requirements for circular packaging,” said Belal Habib, head of Brand Owner Collaboration at Siegwerk.

“The challenge is to find a recyclable design that also meets the respective performance requirements of the packaging.”

Pet food packaging needs to be food-safe and have specific barrier properties such as grease resistance, in order to maintain freshness and structural integrity.

Traditionally, these requirements meant complex, non-recyclable multimaterial structures with metallised layers.

“The problem: they are not recyclable,” added Habib. “This is where innovative barrier coatings applied in thin layers and inline with regular printing inks can help to switch from an incompatible multimaterial structure to a fully recyclable monomaterial solution in the sense of a circular economy.”

The solution utilises two CIRKIT coatings:

CIRKIT GreaseBar: An inline-printable grease barrier coating.

CIRKIT HeatGuard: A coating that enhances sealing efficiency and heat resistance on film surfaces, also inline-printable.

These coatings, combined with full polyurethane inks suitable for mechanical recycling, enable the mono-polyethylene bag to achieve the same performance as traditional multimaterial structures while being fully recyclable.

Importantly, the inks and coatings are solvent-based, deinkable, and inline-printable without sacrificing print quality.

“Together, we have succeeded in developing an innovation that is circular, delivers on performance and maintains current process efficiencies due to inline and high-speed conversion,” said Habib.

“This shows that, by joining forces, we are in a position to make recyclable monoplastic packaging a reality and thus counter the still wide presence of multimaterial laminated structures with future-oriented flexible packaging solutions made for circularity.”

Siegwerk’s expertise spans the entire packaging life cycle, from raw material selection to recycling.

This allows it to partner with companies to redesign packaging structures for sustainability according to current guidelines.