What is it?
Plastic-coated paper cartons, such as the ubiquitous Tetra Pak beverage, milk, and food cartons, are recycled into a cellulose fibre-reinforced material. This is later mixed with virgin high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic to form a strong composite material. Cartons have until now been difficult to recycle, because they are made from a laminate of paper and aluminium foil with several layers of plastic film.
This new patented single-process recycling technology breaks the aluminium down into very small pieces and separates and distributes the cellulose fibres within the paper, so there are no residual paper fragments left. The resulting material is mixed with HDPE plastic and the cellulose fibres are distributed uniformly throughout the material during the compounding process. The cellulose fibres reinforce the polyolefin material, thereby increasing the tensile strength and stiffness.
The moulded sample in the Positive Plastics Kit contains 60% post-industrial recycled carton and 40% HDPE and other additives. It is also possible to use post-consumer recycled carton if the carton is cleaned thoroughly before processing.
Flexural Modulus (MPa): 3400
Tensile Strength (MPa): 59
Break strain (%): 4.6
Izod Notched Impact Strength, +23°C (kJ/m2): 5.7
Density (kg/m³): 1.17
Melt Mass-Flow Rate 230°C,5kg (g/10min): 0.8
The mechanical properties of plain HDPE are not very high when compared with other semi-rigid thermoplastics. Compounding the material with recycled Tetra Pak feedstock, however, more than doubles the strength and rigidity of the end result. This makes the material a valid alternative to many unfilled fossil-based polymers.
Look and feel
The material has a matte surface, and the visible evenly distributed metallic flakes are the result of the shredded aluminium film within the mixture. The natural colour is dark grey, and it can be coloured to produce other dark shades of blue, green, red, etc.
Because of the difficulty of recycling, a high percentage of post-consumer plastic-coated paper cartons are incinerated or landfilled.
This new process enables the recycling of cartons into a material that displaces fossil-based polyethylene while improving the properties of the resulting compound.
Applications include cable ducts, shipping pallets, ballpoint pens, electrical appliances, and furniture.
Why we chose this material
The very large waste fraction of post-consumer cartons can now be recycled into new products. Another plus – the technology is made available in local markets globally.
Why you should consider this material
You have a chance to promote a material that solves a tough recycling issue.
Your customers can easily recognize and relate to the source of the recycled material.
You need a polymer with increased stiffness.
You are looking for a material with a speckled recycled look.
You are looking for an alternative to GFRP
About the manufacturer
APFU (Advanced Paper Fibre Upcycling Technology) is developed by Furukawa Electric Company Limited based in Japan. Furukawa Electric Group is a conglomerate with more than 100 companies and more than 50.000 employees.
The APFU technology is patented, and the company is partnering with recyclers in local markets who can license the technology. The company can help you source the material if it is not available from a recycler in your area.