Packaging manufacturer Coveris has launched MonoFlexBE, a range of lightweight, fully recyclable pouches which Tesco is now using for grated cheese.

Providing a direct replacement for current non-recyclable alternatives, the new MonoFlexBE format matches current shelf-life requirements, as well as maintaining packing line efficiencies. The film also delivers a significant plastic weight reduction of 680mg of plastic per bag to offer further carbon savings.

Launched in partnership with manufacturer Ornua Foods, their introduction marks a major step change in the packaging of cheese, according to Coveris, moving from the hard-to-recycle mixed, triple-ply nylon laminate, to a fully recyclable polyethylene (PE) monolaminate structure with built-in barrier properties. Currently available across selected packs of Tesco grated cheese in stores nationwide, a full category launch is set to follow across the retailer’s own-brand grated cheese lines.

According to Covers, removing the current hard-to-recycle plastic and switching to the new monolaminate material is expected to move around 411 tonnes of plastic into a dedicated recycling stream annually. Given its lightweight properties, the packs will also deliver a plastic saving of around 32 tonnes, removing this from the supply-chain entirely.

Mirroring the functionality of the former non-recyclable packs, the new high-clarity format also features a resealable zip for improved convenience and are fully printed in up to nine colours using HD flexo, with a matt lacquer for a tactile finish and improved rigidity.

Denise Mathieson, senior packaging manager at Tesco, said, ‘We’re really excited to have worked with Coveris on this new material, it is yet another step closer to realising our ambition of single polymer packaging which is much easier to recycle.’

Given the complex product and shelf-life requirements of cheese, along with its high-speed packing demands, the project has been both a technical and sustainable breakthrough for Coveris, Tesco and Ornua. Tapping into the packaging group’s extensive film capabilities and R&D network, the project has drawn expertise from across the business, including Coveris’ Film Science Lab in Winsford to develop the film and barrier technology, and its Food Science Lab in Lincolnshire to ensure food safety and performance of new materials.

Gordon Walsh, commercial director at Ornua Foods UK, commented, ‘Sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do at Ornua Foods; it is an area that has huge significance to our retail partners, and ultimately our consumers. We pride ourselves in working together to achieve our goals and are delighted that this partnership between Coveris and Ornua Foods UK will deliver such a great benefit for our planet.’

Mark Robinson, flexibles technical sales manager at Coveris UK, said, ‘To have delivered a first-to-market, fully recyclable monolaminate for cheese is a real win for us and a game changer for the whole industry. Once again, we’ve proven our capabilities in developing new sustainable performance films and if we can do this for as technically complex a product as this, then we look forward to the next challenge.’