I was delighted to see that development work done originally at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV) in Germany has been taken up by Unilever and a pilot plant is to be built in Indonesia to evaluate the process for commercial viability. This appears to be a multinational company responsible for using a large amount of multilayer film to make sachets or pouches that it is currently not possible to recycle taking positive action towards being able to continue to use these barrier films by organising a way to recycle them.
The process developed by IVV is able to take the used, dirty multilayer sachets and successfully recover the polymers. The claim is that the cost of recovery is one sixth that of producing the same amount of virgin polymer. I suspect the biggest problem will be in recovering, from the consumers, sufficient used sachets to provide a continuous feedstock for the recovery process to be run optimally. This is probably behind the decision to establish the collection routes first before attempting to commission the recovery plant. To improve the chances of this technology being successful Unilever have also stated that they will make the technology an open source technology enabling competitors to more easily adopt the technology.
I am ancient enough that before getting too excited I will wait to see how this project develops and keep my fingers crossed that it will be successful and will spread worldwide. If so it will be a win-win for the packaging industry as the improved barrier materials can continue to be used and at the same time the recycling targets can still be met.