Recyclability and redesign challenges in multilayer flexible food packaging—a review

Anna Sophia Bauer, Manfred Tacker, Ilke Uysal-Unalan, Rui M.S. Cruz, Theo Varzakas, Victoria Krauter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


Multilayer flexible food packaging is under pressure to redesign for recyclability. Most multilayer films are not sorted and recycled with the currently available infrastructure, which is based on mechanical recycling in most countries. Up to now, multilayer flexible food packaging was highly customizable. Diverse polymers and non-polymeric layers allowed a long product shelf-life and an optimized material efficiency. The need for more recyclable solutions asks for a reduction in the choice of material. Prospectively, there is a strong tendency that multilayer flexible barrier packaging should be based on polyolefins and a few recyclable barrier layers, such as aluminium oxide (AlOx) and silicon oxide (SiOx). The use of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) and metallization could be more restricted in the future, as popular Design for Recycling Guidelines have recently reduced the maximum tolerable content of barrier materials in polyolefin packaging. The substitution of non-recyclable flexible barrier packaging is challenging because only a limited number of barriers are available. In the worst case, the restriction on material choice could result in a higher environmental burden through a shortened food shelf-life and increased packaging weights.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2702
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Flexible packaging
  • Mono-material
  • Multilayer packaging
  • Polyolefin
  • Recyclability
  • Redesign
  • Shelf-life of foods


Dive into the research topics of 'Recyclability and redesign challenges in multilayer flexible food packaging—a review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this