Itene works on the development of flexible and recyclable structures for food packaging materials


The Itene technology center is immersed in the development of alternative flexible packaging structures, based on polyolefins, designed specifically for the food sector, in which it works to optimize and enhance the mechanical and barrier properties of these containers, in addition to guaranteeing its complete recyclability.

These investigations are being developed within the framework of the Nefllexar project , financed by the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (Ivace) with Feder funds and which runs between June 2023 and June 2024.

To achieve these new packaging structures, the project is developed through two lines of work. Firstly, it focuses on the application of coatings , using printing techniques such as flexography and gravure based on commercial solutions, as well as the improvement of their final properties by incorporating additives and fillers that will significantly improve their properties. This approach is aimed at enhancing and optimizing the fundamental characteristics of flexible packaging structures.

Likewise, work is being done on the development and formulation of extrusion grades in order to improve the properties of conventional thermoplastic matrices through the use of additives. In this way, the aim is to reduce or eliminate the need to use layers and adhesives, for the design of less complex structures and with improved mechanical and barrier properties.

In this process, the development of structures is being carried out using conventional printing and lamination technologies, which can be implemented at an industrial level by packaging materials transformers.

These structures may be used as packaging materials in specific sectors such as snacks and nuts, fruit puree and sliced ​​products, among other applications. The advantage lies in its ease of recycling without compromising the technical requirements or the useful life of the packaged product, thus contributing to the goals of sustainability and recyclability in the packaging sector.

Saúl Calabuig, project manager at Itene, highlighted that “we are facing an opportunity to transform the way we conceive and approach sustainability in packaging. Nefllexar not only seeks to meet standards, but also exceed them, offering sustainable and recyclable solutions that do not compromise the quality or useful life of packaged products.”

Response to the guidelines of the Waste Law and the Royal Packaging Decree
The Nefllexar project responds to the guidelines of the current Spanish regulatory context, established by the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soil for a Circular Economy and the Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which imposes sustainability requirements, including an increase in rates. recycling.

The use of multi-layer and multi-material structures in packaging applications extends the useful life and stability of the product during storage. However, when they become waste, these structures pose challenges in their management due to the complexity in identification, separation and subsequent recycling or recovery.

This involves the development of packaging solutions that offer essential properties for their correct functionality, without compromising their recyclability. In this sense, the Nefllexar project meets the main goal: obtaining more sustainable materials, implementable by packaging materials transformers, with a competitive cost and validated for various packaging applications within the food sector.