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Zotefoams Unveils Progress on ReZorce: Sustainable Beverage Cartons Closer to Reality

Zotefoams and Refresco report significant progress on ReZorce, a mono-material packaging solution for beverage cartons.

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Zotefoams, a provider of cellular materials technology, gave a comprehensive update on the progress of its joint development project with Refresco for the development and in-market trials of ReZorce®, Zotefoams’ mono-material barrier packaging substrate, in beverage carton applications.

Refresco, the world's largest independent beverage solutions provider for leading retailers and A-brands with production in Europe, North America and Australia, and Zotefoams signed the joint development agreement, with a scope to develop ReZorce beverage cartons up to and including in-market trials for a major European retailer.

At the event, keynote speaker Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and globally recognised campaigner on sustainability, hailed ReZorce as offering the potential for circularity in a market where this has not previously been possible and noted that simplicity of materials and design is key to the development of a circular economy. He also commented that the compatibility of ReZorce with standard household recycling streams is an important factor in ensuring the product is recycled, while sounding a note of caution about the word ‘recyclable’, seen on so many types of packaging, some of which are in reality very difficult to recycle. “This is a deeply empty word,” said Mr Polman: “the key term must be ‘recycled’.”

Neil Court-Johnston, President of Zotefoams’ MuCell Extrusion LLC business unit, which produces the microcellular foaming technology used in the manufacture of ReZorce, spoke about the journey from concept to commercialisation of this revolutionary product. “The traditional beverage carton was launched in the 1950s and its design is fundamentally the same today,” he said. “The barrier properties of ReZorce lend themselves to a number of packaging applications but we chose to focus on beverage cartons because we could not see anyone, anywhere, trying to deliver circularity. With around 250bn beverage cartons used worldwide each year, this is a big problem.

“The annual Ellen MacArthur Foundation report is a stark illustration of the challenges FMCG manufacturers face in meeting their waste and carbon reduction targets, which can be attributed in part to the complex nature of some types of packaging,” said Mr Court-Johnston. “However, where beverage cartons are concerned, we believe ReZorce is the solution: peer-reviewed life cycle assessments show that a 1-litre ReZorce beverage carton uses half the energy and water required for a traditional liquid packaging board carton, and has a global warming potential that is 55% lower. What’s more, it meets all current and impending legislation driving towards a more circular economy.”

Updating the audience on the progress of the company’s joint project with Refresco, Mr Court-Johnston reported that ReZorce cartons are being produced at one of Refresco’s facilities in Europe, using a machine designed for traditional composite beverage cartons, modified with a proprietary change parts kit. The companies are now initiating quality and compliance testing procedures required for commercial production of beverage carton applications.

Mr Court-Johnston spoke about how Zotefoams has created what he termed ‘a coalition for better beverage cartons’, bringing together leading companies in extrusion, print, conversion, filling, packing and recycling with the aim of delivering ReZorce to market as a circular, and potentially closed loop, alternative to the current composite beverage carton.

Zotefoams also announced today that is has agreed terms with Südpack Verpackungen SE & Co. KG, a longtime leader in polymer extrusion, through which Südpack will provide a potential capacity of up to 100 million ReZorce cartons annually. Dirk Hardow, Chief Executive, Functional Films & Compounds at Südpack says,” With our functional film, we will be contributing to the production of a packaging concept that will fulfil the requirements of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive in terms of recyclability and recycled content.”

During a lively panel debate, Mr Polman and Zotefoams Group CEO David Stirling were joined by Coert Michielsen, Chief Procurement & Manufacturing Officer at Refresco, Willemijn Peeters, Founding Director of environmental sustainability consultancy SEArious Business and Chris Hanlon, Commercial Director for Polymers at recycling specialist Biffa.

Mr Stirling comments, “The announcements we have made today are indicative of the gathering momentum on this project. We are proud that Refresco, a world leader in its field, has recognised the potential of ReZorce and has partnered with us to accelerate its commercial launch.

“We are delighted to have reached this milestone, which clearly demonstrates that ReZorce is progressing well towards becoming a fully commercialised product that is scalable with existing infrastructure.

“Retailers and brand owners understand the need for a sustainable alternative to LPB cartons and ReZorce meets that need: it is fully recyclable via mainstream collections, contains recycled material in line with the thresholds set out in the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and has a lower carbon footprint.”

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