Toyo Ink initiates flexible packaging recycling scheme

Toyo Ink SC Holdings, the parent company of the specialty chemicals manufacturing conglomerate Toyo Ink Group, and Itochu Corporation have partnered to establish a plastic recycling scheme to recover and reuse multilayer film packaging materials.
Toyo Ink Group and Itochu Corporation have partnered to establish a plastic recycling scheme to recover and reuse multilayer film packaging materials

The two firms plan to develop the technology needed to create a circularity of multilayer flexible packaging by making currently unrecyclable multilayer plastic packaging into a recyclable material by 2022. 

The collective goal is to boost the plastic material recycling rate to more than 40 percent in Japan and abroad. At present, the recycling rate in Japan is about 27 percent. According to the company’s statement, in Japan, about 16 percent of plastic waste is simply burned, buried, or otherwise processed without being reused; about 56 percent rely on incineration methods, such as thermal recycling and heat reclaiming. Currently, large amounts of plastic are not recycled.

To address the plastic waste issue, Toyo Ink, in cooperation with a leading environmental technologies provider, developed an innovative plastic recovery method for multilayered flexible packaging, where a deinking coating agent and a delaminating adhesive are applied to the plastic film surrounding the ink layers. After use, the packaging waste is subjected to an alkaline treatment in which the coating agent, adhesive, and interlaying ink layers are cleanly released from the film substrate. 

This results in the recovery of high-quality plastic material that can then be reused. A pilot plant based on this plastic recovery process is currently being built in Japan and is set to become operational later this year.

Under the agreement, Itochu will widely promote this technology to manufacturers, retailers, and brand owners. Moreover, the company will acquire exclusive marketing rights in Japan and preferential negotiation rights in Asia and Europe related to major product materials associated with this recycling technology.

‘We are delighted to partner with Itochu for this ambitious project,’ commented Shiina Harako, project manager, marketing division at Toyo Ink. ‘The Itochu Group brings to the table a whole host of major players in the global packaging value chain who share our vision of creating a recycling-oriented society. Through this partnership, we hope to carve a clear path to realizing a circular economy for post-industrial plastic waste in Japan and elsewhere. This initiative is also a major step in Toyo Ink's strategic plan to start a post-industrial recycling business in 2022, and post-consumer recycling business in commercial plants by 2025.’