Rob Clare, Applications Development Specialist at NOVA Chemicals, recently sat down with Packaging Strategies to discuss how his company is helping converters and brands overcome design challenges in flexible food packaging.

NOVA Chemicals is a producer of polyethylene resins, and for many years the company has been working to optimize traditional films and laminates for flexible packaging.

In recent years, Clare notes, “We’ve really been working hard in the area of recyclable packaging. These things are done at our Center for Performance Applications in Calgary where we have a suite of both packaging equipment and laboratory testing equipment that helps us design new structures that we can share with the industry.”

During our interview, Clare spelled out some of the challenges that arise when moving to recyclable materials.

“Recyclable materials may not perform in the same way as the traditional materials that customers and brands have been used to working with, so there’s been a need to educate the whole value chain on what can be achieved and how to manage with these new materials,” Clare said.

Heat resistance and aesthetics can be different when working with recycled resins. Furthermore, if a material like aluminum foil is removed from a lamination, one challenge can be figuring how to maintain the same barrier characteristics.

NOVA Chemicals now engages not only with converters in the packaging design and development processes but also with the brands, which is a relatively new development

“Historically, resin producers were kept away from discussions with the brands. That was the business of our customers. Now that all of the low-hanging fruit has been picked and the challenges that need to be overcome are getting harder, we’ve been brought in as a trusted adviser,” Clare explains, adding, “We are having three-way discussions with brands, and actually we’re working directly with some brands to look at what can be done to solve these recyclability challenges.”

Be sure to check out the entire podcast interview below to get the whole story.