Sustainable Stand-up Pouch

German Packaging Award 2019

A completely recyclable stand-up pouch – an innovation from Werner & Mertz – won praise from the German Packaging Award jury. The prize-winning packaging was developed with cooperation partners in the Recyclate Initiative.

Recyclable pouch wins in the Sustainability category

"The great challenges of our time are packaging developments that are perfectly adapted to the recycling economy," the experts on the jury said about the innovative packaging which won in the Sustainability category. "This bag impressively demonstrates what can be achieved today with a consistent recycling approach to design." In May 2020 the stand-up pouch will be honored with the international WorldStar Packaging Award in Düsseldorf.

(From right) Immo Sander, Head of Packaging Development at Werner & Mertz, with Michele Lucchese, packaging developer at Werner & Mertz, and Thomas Kahl, Project Manager EcoSolutions from Mondi 5 Consumer Packaging, was pleased to receive the German Packaging Award in the category Sustainability for the completely recyclable stand-up pouch. © dvi/Photographers: Uwe Niklas, Steffen Kirschner

The patented packaging concept was developed in a joint project conducted by Werner & Mertz with the global packaging and paper company Mondi. "It takes a network to realize packaging for the circular economy and we – Mondi and Werner & Mertz – were prepared to take up the challenge," said Thomas Kahl, EcoSolutions Project Manager for Mondi Consumer Packaging. The result of the four years of cooperation is a completely recyclable pouch with removable wrap-around label developed in accordance with Cradle to Cradle® principles. The concept solves the problem of recycling printed plastics. There is no printing on approximately 85 percent of the total packaging material. That means that the material can be recycled at high quality without contamination from ink. Moreover, the remaining 15 percent, made up by the printed label, is completely recyclable. Because it contains no adhesives or bonding agents, it can flow back into new applications. The complete recyclability was recently certified by the independent Institute cyclos-HTP and Interseroh. In addition, the new packaging uses about 70 percent less material than rigid plastic bottles with the same fill volume.

The first completely recyclable stand-up pouch, which won in the Sustainability category, is now on retail shelves. Soon the entire pouch portfolio for the Frosch brand will be converted to the new packaging.


Development History of the Patented Stand-up Pouch

The first completely recyclable stand-up pouch of a monomaterial (polyethylene) with a removable wrap-around label (also of polyethylene), designed according to the Cradle-to-Cradle® Principle, is a joint development of Werner & Mertz and the packaging and paper company Mondi.

"With this groundbreaking design for recycling, we have taken a giant step toward closed-loop circulation of plastic packaging," said Sander. After use, the patented innovative stand-up pouch can be recycled 100 percent into recyclates of nearly the same quality as the raw material.

This innovation is the fulfillment of an idea which has long been on the Werner & Mertz agenda. "Back in 2014 we at Werner & Mertz were looking for 'single-material concepts,' said Sander. The goal was a pouch of monomaterial – instead of the usual multi-layer product – which could be printed and filled by using existing technologies. It quickly became apparent that the goal could be achieved only in cooperation with a packaging specialist, Sander added. Werner & Mertz found exactly that in Mondi. "Nowadays it is hardly possible for just one company to come up with such an innovation on its own. It takes a network to develop packaging for the circular economy," said Thomas Kahl, Project Manager EcoSolutions from Mondi Consumer Packaging. "And we – Mondi and Werner & Mertz, were prepared to take up the challenge."

In 2015 the two companies established a project group together with The Green Dot, EPEA Switzerland and cyclos-HTP. The three partners supported the development with advice on material selection and confirmation of the pouch's recyclability and integration in existing recycling structures. The first thing the project participants did was to find out exactly what "Design for Recycling" meant. Even the experienced packaging experts had to learn to think the product through from the other end. At the conclusion of an intense development phase in 2017, a stable and fully usable stand-up pouch made of polyethylene was realized.

After overcoming all bureaucratic hurdles, Mondi and Werner & Mertz presented the new development to the public in 2018. The first pouches were made available in retail markets in autumn 2019.

The completely recyclable pouch is just the beginning of the development of recyclable flexible plastic packaging. "Our goal is to have flexible plastic packaging that is not only fully recyclable, but is itself made of recycled materials," said Sander.