DISINFACTS | Special edition 2023

9 KNOWLEDGE Mono foils facilitate the return of valuable raw materials to the economic cycle system Recycling of foil packaging References 1. Schlummer M et al. (2022) Lösungsmittelbasierte Recyclingverfahren. Recycling von Verbundfolien. Kunststoffe 1; 38-40. https://www.kunststoffe.de/a/fachartikel/ recycling-von-verbundfolien-358227 (accessed on 07.06.2023) 2. Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (2022) Mindeststandard für die Bemessung der Recyclingfähigkeit von Systembeteiligungspflichtigen Verpackungen gemäß § 21 Abs. 3 VerpackG. https://www.verpackungsregister.org/fileadmin/files/Mindeststandard/Mindeststandard_VerpackG_Ausgabe_2022.pdf (accessed on 07.06.2023) 3. Schwerpunkt Recycling. Das Magazin des Umweltbundesamtes 01/2018. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/2546/publikationen/uba_sp_ recycling_01-2018_web.pdf (accessed on 07.06.2023) Unfortunately, not all packaging can be easily and completely recycled. Foil packaging, such as that used for flow packs of ready-to-use disinfectant wipes, also presents numerous challenges. Here, it is worth taking a closer look at the exact composition of the material and, as a manufacturer, improving its recyclability. The following applies: The fewer different materials come together and the higher the proportion of a particular material in the composite, the easier it is to return the valuable material to the economic cycle. Multilayer composite foils made of different plastics are often hardly recyclable Multilayer composite foils are flexible films that consist of layers of different plastics, none of which is predominant (> 95%). Plastics frequently used in multilayer composite foils include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Such foils are ideal for packaging products in a safe and durable manner. They also reduce transport-related emissions due to their light weight [1]. However, their recyclability usually leaves much to be desired, because the different plastics are so tightly interwoven that they cannot be separated and thus cannot be clearly assigned to a specific recyclable material cycle (e.g., that for PE or PP) [1, 2]. These materials are therefore not recycled, but incinerated like residual waste. Mono foils make recycling much easier If foil packaging consists of at least 95% one plastic material - usually PE or PP - this plastic is referred to as mono-material and the foils as mono-material foils (also known as "mono foils"). Mono foils can also be multilayered to improve the desired properties (e.g., protecting the product from air or light). Current models for evaluating recyclability recommend that manufacturers of packaging foils increasingly rely on monomaterial foils in the future [1-3]. Since these can be recycled well into the material cycle, mono foils help to save resources. The fact that a large amount of plastic waste is generated in healthcare facilities every day is by no means surprising. Since many medical devices, such as syringes or infusion tubes, are single-use products and must be packaged in sterile conditions, waste cannot be completely avoided. Even though they are colloquially referred to as "plastic waste," they are actually made of valuable secondary raw materials. If foil packaging consists of at least 95% one plastic material - this plastic is referred to as mono-material What is mono foil? Composite foil A multi-layer packaging foil made of different types of plastics. These can no longer be separated from each other, so that recycling is not possible. Mono foil Packaging foil made from a single layer. Because mono foils are made from a single type of plastic, they can be fully recycled.