The ‘subtle’ Laminated Packaging benefits: Printed Laminates in a Sustainable world

As sustainable packaging moves to the forefront we decided we’d blog about the laminated packaging benefits. A subject that is important to for us at LPF. 

Why? Because laminated packaging is receiving more attention and questions. This is logical: when made from several different materials it’s very difficult, if not impossible to recycle. This is why laminates tend to be burned; it at least returns some energy. 

However, this doesn’t mean that laminated packaging is by definition unsustainable. In this blog we explain why we think they will always remain a good choice. 

Can laminated packaging exist in a sustainable world?

Before we cover laminated packaging benefits and why we think Laminates aren’t going anywhere, we’ll quickly explain sustainable packaging. When we talk about sustainable flexibles at LPF, we’re specifically talking about recyclable material.

This is because flexible packaging is already very efficient compared to rigid plastics, metal and glass during production. However, being able to reuse or efficiently get rid of it is still a challenge. According to most, packaging is recyclable when at least 95% of the product consists of one material. For example, our monomaterial printed packaging can already be considered recyclable!

But what about laminates?

This does pose a problem for laminated packaging, as these concepts often use different materials together, to create a group of attributes that a monomaterial would never be able to match. Unless, suppliers use concepts that consolidate multiple materials back to one material.

For example, a PET/ALU/PE stand-up pouch might be turned in a PE/PE-EVOH/PE pouch to retain a barrier while being more recyclable. And as laminated packaging tends to move towards single materials one could wonder if there remains any point in laminating at all. We set apart why we believe there does!

Look and feel

Our first point is somewhat subjective, but in our experience laminated packaging tends to look and feel somewhat more sturdy and premium than monomaterials. The extra thickness and content in between the layers creates a less flimsy feel.

“locking up” the inks between layers

A strong benefit is the way laminates allows producers to ‘lock up’ the inks between layers. When you print a monomaterial you need to print on the outside. You don’t want your inks and lacquers to come into contact with your product.

But printing on the outside makes it vulnerable: parts of the print can get scratched or wet, ruining your great design by the time it’s hit the shelves. With laminated packaging we print in between the layers: keeping it safe from the outside world, but also keeping it away from your precious product.

More room for customization

Even in a world where packaging needs to consist out of one material for 95%, having laminated packaging still allows for more customization and options. The remaining 5% can be used for a recycle friendly high-barrier material like SiOx or AlOx, and it also creates more options for colored, matt or glossy films.

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