AkzoNobel’s coating technology could boost paper recycling

Netherlands-based company develops coating that allows paper cups to be recycled.

September 16, 2014

paper cup recycle coatingAkzoNobel, a producer of specialty chemicals, paints and coatings headquartered in the Netherlands, has developed a coating technology that makes paper cups recyclable and compostable. The EvCote Water Barrier 3000 coating is made from plant-based oils and recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.

“This is an industry-changing innovation, which could have a significant impact in terms of providing economic and environmental benefits along the value chain. The new coatings technology will help restaurant owners and cup producers to reduce their waste,” says Conrad Keijzer, AkzoNobel executive committee member responsible for performance coatings.

AB Ghosh, AkzoNobel managing director, industrial coatings, adds, “There has already been strong interest in our product, and we expect it to prompt a major transformation in paper cup production, much like the move from wax to the current polyethylene process around 40 years ago.”

The company estimates that 200 billion paper cups are used around the world every year, but AkzoNobel says recycling the material is nearly impossible without incurring prohibitive costs or greatly diminishing the quality of the paper.

However, when paper coated with EvCote is recycled, the quality of the paper fiber remains intact, which means the paper can be reused in the production of other paper products, the company explains. In some cases, AkzoNobel claims, because the fibers are strengthened by the coating, paper produced from the material can even achieve higher strength than the original, uncoated paper. AkzoNobel notes that an additional advantage of its coating is that it enables paper mills to recapture 100 percent of the paper scrap from the production process that is currently sent to landfill, resulting in significant financial savings.

“The cost of paper represents the highest single cost for cup makers, so recycling the industrial scrap means that there are both cost and environmental benefits,” says Gil Sherman, market development manager at AkzoNobel’s paper coatings business. “With the growth of bio-PET, EvCote provides us with options to completely disconnect from the petrol supply chain, because now we can offer our customers a replacement for petroleum-based PE (polyethylene) films.”

The EvCote barrier coatings, made of up to 95 percent sustainable or renewable content, protect paper surfaces against water, grease and moisture, AkzoNobel says. The coatings can be used in numerous applications, including old corrugated containers (OCC), folding carton board, beverage carrier board and food service packaging.