Circular Economy

Fraunhofer UMSICHT tests Henkel's extended evaluation tool for recyclable packaging

Press release / July 31, 2020

Packaging protects products during transport and storage. In order to develop sustainable packaging and conserve resources, Henkel developed an evaluation tool that quickly and reliably checks plastic packaging for recyclability. The tool has now been expanded to include common materials, so that packaging made of paper/cardboard, glass, aluminum and tinplate can be analyzed in addition to plastic. Fraunhofer UMSICHT tested the software tool.

© Henkel
The new software tool is easy to use and checks packaging for recyclability.

At the beginning of 2019, Henkel developed an easy-to-use software tool to check plastic packaging for recyclability during product development - based on publicly recognized criteria catalogs. It analyzes the composition and the individual weight proportions of the components - for example base materials, closure systems, labels or colors. The respective suitability for the sorting and recycling processes is stored for all components. On this basis, the tool displays a clear result according to a traffic light evaluation system: It illustrates which design is recyclable to what percentage and where there is potential for improvement. In this way, it supports the development of sustainable packaging solutions. The tool is also available free of charge to other companies and organizations on the Henkel website and has already been downloaded more than
2500 times.

Comprehensive analysis options for common packaging materials

The latest version of the evaluation tool enables packaging developers to analyze packaging made of paper/cardboard, glass, aluminium or tinplate. For this purpose, design guidelines created by the University of Applied Sciences Campus Vienna and the German minimum standard for packaging were integrated. An independent test by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT confirmed that the further developed tool reliably evaluates recyclability. "We are pleased that Henkel is expanding its commitment to the development of sustainable packaging solutions with the further development of the software and will continue to make this tool available to other companies," says Dr. Markus Hiebel, Head of the Sustainability and Participation Department at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. "The additional option of evaluating additional packaging is an important step towards accelerating the transition to a recycling economy."

Objective: Functioning recycling management

Henkel has set itself ambitious packaging targets for the year 2025: then, 100 percent of Henkel's packaging is to be recyclable or reusable*, and the amount of new plastics from fossil sources is to be reduced by 50 percent. In addition, the company also wants to help prevent waste from being disposed of in the environment. "We are committed to a functioning recycling economy. Recyclable packaging is a fundamental prerequisite for this. Findings from the assessment tool have helped us to develop new sustainable packaging solutions that will contribute to our 2025 targets," said Colin Zenger, responsible for the development of sustainable packaging solutions in Henkel's Laundry & Home Care business sector. "Now we are taking the next step: In addition to plastic packaging, the software now also evaluates the recyclability of packaging made of all other common materials."

* With the exception of adhesive products where residues impair recyclability or recycling streams
can pollute.

 

Competencies of Fraunhofer UMSICHT