ReMatCh project advances circularity of fibre and polymer barrier coatings through collaboration

The ReMatCh (Recycled Material Challenge) driven by Stora Enso is a new project that collaborates with the SPIRIT programme. It is well-aligned with the objectives of SPIRIT where partners work together both within and outside of the packaging value chain. ReMatCh supports, and is supported by several research companies, institutes, and universities, and the key research focus of the project is the separation of polymer from the fibre in polymer barrier coatings for effective material recovery and recycling.  

Stora Enso has launched its ReMatCh project as a part of the larger collaborative platform with Business Finland. The project has close links to the SPIRIT and Beyond Circularity ecosystems led by Borealis and Valmet, respectively, as well as their joint co-innovation project Urban Mill focusing on chemical recycling. It is focused on a core mission to improve the circularity of board materials with polymer barrier coating. A complex challenge to solve, this development work benefits from sharing a wide range of expertise; through this programme and network, Stora Enso and the other partners together drive the discovery of solutions for several steps along the value chain to enhance the circularity of fibre and polymer barrier coatings for packaging materials.

Oliver Kuhn, Head of the Circular Packaging Hub at Stora Enso, remarked on the significance of the project: “The work is creating a toolbox for efficient recycling of fibre and polymer barrier coatings. ReMatCh can enable us to achieve improved material cascading and make better decisions about commercial application.” Kuhn added: “Ultimately, ReMatCh allows to make efficient use of recycled materials in the value chain while simultaneously increasing the share of renewable and sustainable material in our products.”

With ReMatCh, the primary objectives are to:

  • Develop the separation of polymer from the fibre in polymer barrier coatings, and to optimize both streams for effective material recovery and recycling
  • Research feeding separated polymers into mechanical and chemical recycling processes for reuse by Stora Enso in food packaging materials
  • Research new promising alternatives for classified recycled fibres in the most valuable end-uses, e.g., textiles and other future applications.

Connecting to the greater partnership ecosystem 

ReMatCh forms a close collaboration network with its partners along the the whole packaging value chain. Sharing of ideas and competencies is expected to lead to tangible benefits including new material development, innovative business models, improved recycling, and others.

Borealis is part of the ReMatCh collaboration, which is well aligned with the objectives of the SPIRIT programme. Auli Nummila-Pakarinen from Borealis says: “Closing the loop for plastics fraction from fibre-based polymer barrier coatings is a joint task. Assessing the best options for recycling as well as testing of the suitability of the resulting recycled plastics for extrusion coating are our main focus in this collaboration.”

During the latter part of the project, Stora Enso will use and test recycled polymers in an extrusion coating process of paper board, and through further 3D packaging converting.

The project began in early 2023 and will continue through the end of 2025.

This article is based on the news published on 24.8.2023 on Stora Enso’s website.


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