KHS aims to ‘square a circle’ with sustainable commitments

German machinery manufacturer KHS is to stage a number of workshops designed to find out how the percentage of recyclate in film – as stipulated by the German Packaging Law – can be increased.

The company’s packaging product manager, Karl-Heinz Klumpe, explained: “You make a few changes to the chemicals or recipe of your film and we adjust the air flow or temperature accordingly. Providing that there’s a standard of quality that is accepted by the big bottlers’ marketing departments, of course.

“With film made of 100 per cent recyclate the shrink results aren’t yet satisfactory. Together we still have to work out how to close the gap here between recycling requirements on the one hand and the demand for packs of ever increasing quality on the other.”

Another avenue film manufacturers are exploring is to reduce the thickness of their film, commented Klumpe, but this requires more complex materials.

“This has its limitations when used for beverage packaging,” he added. “Below a thickness of 35 microns it’s possible that the price per kilogram for film then again rises. When it comes down to it, neither bottlers nor their customers want to pay for this.

“Everything we do to reduce the amount of material used primarily has a financial motive and aims to cut costs for bottlers. Or – if we’re talking about recycling – film manufacturers of course have to continue to develop and adapt so that their business model can be further maintained even in the face of stricter legal requirements.

“In the development of sustainable packaging we see ourselves acting as an interface between all those involved and the beverage industry. We’re helping to develop new standards which marry ecological demands and legal provisions with bottlers’ economic interests.”

This is a challenge, according to KHS, which is sometimes tantamount to the squaring of a circle.