Recycling of aluminium plastic laminated tubes and pouches

Laminated packaging is widely used as a packaging material for a range of products and is becoming an increasingly popular option for lightweight product packaging.

There are a range of different laminated materials however in this work and laminated packaging is used to refer to plastic/aluminum laminates used in a range of packaging formats, including pouches, bags and tubes, for the packaging of consumer goods such as food, drinks, pet foods, toothpastes, and cosmetic products. 

Post-consumer laminated packaging is not a targeted material and is not currently recycled in the UK. A UK company developed a process for recycling laminated packing using microwave pyrolysis, generating aluminum scrap and hydrocarbons in the form of both condensable (liquid) and non-condensable (gaseous) products. WRAP commissioned a project to undertake a trial of the process and assess its viability, including a technical assessment of the properties of laminated packaging and the recycling process. Read the report.

WRAP then looked at the possibility of extracting laminated packaging from residual 'black bag' waste and looked in more detail at the practical feasibility of including the process into the waste recycling infrastructure. Read the report.

The work concluded that there were no insurmountable technical obstacles to separating laminated packaging from residual household waste using one or more separation technologies. The net revenue from recycling laminated packaging currently appears to be lower than the cost of separation which suggests that, at the present time, separating laminated packaging from residual household waste is unlikely to be considered financially viable as a stand-alone activity. However there is a financial driver for separation in the enhancement of the value of the non-ferrous (aluminum) stream by removing contamination.