How our solutions create added value
Plastic films from RKW make a significant contribution to protecting health, food and moisture-sensitive goods. They prolong usability, they protect against transport damage and thus the waste of resources. This is an active contribution to sustainability. At the same time, the films themselves are becoming increasingly environmentally friendly, both in production and in the period after active use.
Food waste is a sad reality in Europe and in many other countries around the world. Because in everyday life fresh fruit and vegetables are repeatedly forgotten in the refrigerator after being bought, they eventually end up in the trash. At the same time, the same thing happens to large quantities of crops already on their way to the supermarkets because the supply chain is sometimes too long and they arrive after the time of consumption. Both situations can be mitigated with films, among other things, because cucumbers wrapped in PE film, for example, have a much longer shelf life than unprotected ones - at least twice as long.
But even before the harvest, films can help. RKW offers films for agriculture and horticulture worldwide that are tailored to the requirements of different climatic zones and protect plants from severe weather conditions such as snow, frost, wind and rain, as well as from weather fluctuations, increasing the yield of market fruits and minimizing yield gaps. The range - consisting of soil disinfectant and crop enhancement films as well as nonwovens and greenhouse films - stands for stable production, from cultivation to harvest, with high added value, consistent crop quality and secure income.
The purpose of film packaging for food is to protect the product: Light, air, moisture - all of these cause the product to spoil, and plastic packaging protects against all of these. So far, however, this has been at the expense of recyclability, because they are usually a combination of several different materials.
RKW has developed packaging that consists of only one material, polyethylene, and yet meets all hygiene and product protection requirements. Based on many years of experience with MDO ("machine direction orientation") films, RKW has developed high-performance films for sustainable food packaging that offer a high level of protection throughout the product life cycle. While many current products are not recyclable due to the use of multi-material solutions, PE-based mono-material packaging meets the requirements for the circular economy, contributing to the achievement of the UN sustainability goals.
One such product is RKW Horizon® - a 100% MDO PE film that is suitable as a substitute for the less recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or OPP (oriented polypropylene) in many applications compared to standard PE blown film, especially in flexible packaging. The advantages of this packaging are many: not only is it easy to process, 100 percent recyclable and allows for many customized add-ons, it also offers outstanding barrier properties that result in significantly improved food preservation.
MDO opens up opportunities for the RKW Group to interact directly with brand suppliers and retailers in the value chain and help them achieve their own sustainability goals - with sustainable, recyclable materials that offer a valuable contribution to product protection and the environment in equal measure.
Plastic films indispensable in hygiene
Modern hygiene protects people of all ages and in all walks of life - and here, too, plastic films make a significant contribution. The range of sustainable products that have a direct or indirect positive impact on people's health and well-being is wide. RKW develops innovative films, nonwovens and laminates for hygiene products and medical applications.
Our nonwovens are used in laminates for surgical drapes and packaging of surgical cutlery, as well as for the production of ostomy bags and pressure dressings. Applications of our film solutions in the medical sector include carrier films for wound plasters and tapes, as well as special films for professional wound care and elastic bandages.
RKW solutions are also used in a wide range of hygiene products for everyday use by consumers worldwide, including ultra-thin and breathable films and textile laminates for baby and feminine hygiene and in the area of adult incontinence.
Protection for bulk materials
Bulk goods and powdery products such as cement, flour, salt or sugar are extremely sensitive to moisture, and in the case of cement, they are already responsible for significant CO2 emissions during the production phase. Many cement manufacturers still fill it in paper bags, which, if stored incorrectly, makes it unusable.
RKW has long had a plastic alternative on the market, ProVent®, which is absolutely watertight, tear-resistant and self-venting without loss. Here, too, RKW helps to conserve and protect resources. The life cycle analysis also shows that RKW's FFS (Fill, Form & Seal) bags have a significantly better carbon footprint than paper bags.
Recycling along the entire value chain
Recycling plastics after use is a key factor in reducing the environmental impact of improperly disposed waste and the consumption of resources. For this reason, RKW has recycling facilities at all its production sites, which, for example, immediately returns leftovers created directly during production to the production cycle.
In addition, RKW also purchases film externally for reuse in order to increase the proportion of recycled material in some product segments. Our production of trash bags in Vietnam was awarded the Environmental Angel in 2020 because of the high proportion of recyclate of at least 80 percent.
In the case of early harvest films, for example, the proportion of recyclate is already 100 percent, depending on the product variant. In addition, RKW is a founding member of ERDE, an industry association that enables farmers to return agricultural films and nets that are no longer usable free of charge and in an uncomplicated manner, and to return them to the materials cycle. The system has been so successful that it helped save over 30,000 tons of CO2 in 2020.