GREENVILLE, SC – The Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL) presented its 2020 Sustainability Award during a special Virtual Awards presentation on Thursday, April 16. The AIMCAL Awards Webinar replaced the traditional Awards Ceremony, planned for the group’s Executive Leadership Conference in March, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Winners also will be recognized at the AIMCAL 2020 R2R USA Conference, taking place Oct. 18-21, in Orlando, Florida.

The Primark wipes package from Flex Films (USA) Inc., Elizabethtown, Kentucky, the U.S. subsidiary of Uflex Limited, Films Business, Noida, India, earned the Sustainability Award with its completely recyclable asymmetric nylon — polyethylene (5-micron nylon in 20-micron PE)/ reverse-printed/adhesive/60-micron special PE structure. This innovation also earned a Technology Excellence Award. The nylon/PE layers ensure good label adherence through repeated peel/reseal usage and eliminate leaks while the inner sealant layer minimizes evaporation and bonds strongly at lower sealing temperatures. Designed as a replacement for a polyester/PE, the nylon/PE/PE film runs on existing equipment.

The judges liked the asymmetric structure because the nylon enhances the barrier properties and stiffness of the film, but is present at levels so low the material is recyclable in the PE stream. “Wipes are a rapidly growing market,” noted one judge. “This will enhance the sustainability of the category,” he explained. 

The judges also awarded two Honorable Mentions. One went to ProAmpac, Cincinnati, Ohio, the other to Rolvac, LP, Dayville, Connecticut/Plastic Suppliers Inc., Columbus, Ohio.

ProAmpac has developed a high-barrier pouch with 25% post-consumer-recycled (PCR) content. It’s used for Justin’s nut butter covered nuts. A zipper provides easy access and reclosability to minimize food waste. High opacity white inks and surface matte coating and lamination processes work together to mask the haziness and inconsistencies inherent with PCR content.

The judges were impressed by the level of recycled content and found the overall appearance of the package appealing. “If the circular economy is going to work, it’s vital to provide markets for recycled materials,” noted one member of the panel.

Rollvac, LP/Plastic Suppliers Inc. earned an Honorable Mention for EarthFirst® metallized ultralight polylactic acid (PLA) sealant film, which combines enhanced barrier and sealability with compostability in industrial systems. The metallized PLA can replace a layer of foil, other metallized film, or sealant film and thereby convert three-layer structures to two layers, a gauge reduction of almost 50% and a weight reduction of 40%. Efficiency also improves due to fewer roll changes. Designed for dry products, the plant-based material provides excellent flavor, aroma, and grease barrier properties. It also offers superior sealing properties with a low seal initiation temperature, the ability to seal through contamination, a wide hot-tack temperature range, and high seal strength.

The judges liked the combination of barrier and sealant functions in the metallized PLA. “The potential for converting three-layer films to two-layer structures not only shrinks the carbon footprint of the packaging but also reduces its cost,” noted one judge. “Even though most U.S. consumers don’t have access to industrial composting facilities, consumers view compostability favorably,” added another member of the panel. 

Chris Kerscher, Executive Director of AIMCAL, moderated the judging teleconference. The panel consisted of experts in converting and packaging: Larry Jopko, principal of Stickum Consultancy LLC (Houston, Texas); Robert M. Kimmel, Sc.D., associate professor, director, Packaging Science Program, director, Center for Flexible Packaging, Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina); and Jeff Weber, package application manager at Scholle IPN (Northlake, Illinois).

The AIMCAL Product of the Year Award is part of the AIMCAL Awards program, which also includes Technology of the Year and Product of the Year Award competitions and the new Hall of Honor.