EvCote Water Barrier 3000 Q&A

What is EvCote™ WaterBarrier 3000?

WaterBarrier 3000 is a highly sustainable, water-based barrier coating designed to replace unsustainable Polyethylene (PE) lamination or less sustainable PLA lamination as the water-repellent agent in paper cold cups. Due to its unique properties, it functions as well as laminated PE or PLA on paper cold cups and is fully recyclable and compostable.

How can a paper cup be compostable, if it is coated with PET?

EvCote is not PET; it is a water-based, biodegradable, aliphatic polyester which is manufactured from recycled PET and bio-renewable non-food source plant oils. In the manufacturing process, the PET is "digested" into the resulting polyester resin. There is no PET in the final product.

Why is a paper cup coated with EvCote™ WaterBarrier 3000 more sustainable than a PE or PLA laminated paper cup?

PE laminated paper cannot be composted and is very difficult and expensive to recycle. The source material is virgin PE made from the petrol supply chain. PLA laminated paper can only be composted and cannot be recycled. Poly(lactic acid) or polylactide (PLA) is a biodegradable thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from virgin food-based plant sources such as corn, sugar beets, sugar cane, wheat and more1.

WaterBarrier 3000 is also an aliphatic biodegradable polyester produced from recycled PET stocks (can be either bio or petrol-based) and non-food source plant oils. Once applied to a paper surface, WaterBarrier 3000 allows for 100 percent recyclability in the normal recycling stream (as certified by the Fiber Box Association), as well as full compostability in industrial composting systems.

Using WaterBarrier 3000, the 13 percent industrial scrap resulting from cup production can be readily recycled by the paper mill and used to produce new cup stock. That is 13 percent less paper used.  This cannot happen with laminated PE or PLA due to the difficulties encountered when attempting to recycle. Since most paper cups (98 percent) are laminated PE, that 13 percent is currently landfilled or burned.

Do the cup producers need to change the production process when using the new coating?

EvCote™ WaterBarrier 3000 allows the cup producer to use exactly the same equipment and process steps, but at lower sealing temperatures and shorter sealing dwell time. This results in energy savings for the paper cup producer and contributes to the further sustainability of WaterBarrier 3000 versus PE or PLA laminated paper cups. It does involve a change for the converters or paper mills that are currently laminating. They need to shift from bonding together layers of film and paper, to applying a liquid coating to paper. However, many of them also have coating operations, which will require no changes.

Did you perform any kind of compostability tests (e.g. according to EN 13432 or 14855)?

One of our EvCote formulas is certified EN13432 and we are working towards similar certification for this particular formula.

Are you using bio-PET or recycled PET from bottles?

WaterBarrier 3000 is produced from recycled PET stocks which can be either bio or petrol-based and non-food source plant oils. The particular amount of bio-PET in the recycled material depends on the current usage in the marketplace of bio-PET. As the use of bio-PET increases, the level will also increase in the recycle stream.

How does the recycling of a PET coated paper work?

In the repulping and recycling process, most laminated polymers (PE, PET, PP) do not break down to a particle size that fits through the various filtering screens used in the process. They also tend to create blockages that result in production stoppages and poor quality recycled materials.

EvCote coatings break down to a much smaller particle size that proceed more smoothly through the process, enabling the recycler to produce high quality recycled paper and board without requiring any changes to the current re-pulping and recycling process. Some EvCote coating will remain on the fibres through the re-pulping process. Any EvCote coating making its way into the paper “web” will not negatively impact the quality of the paper, and has at times acted to improve the strengths of the paper.

Where was the coating developed?

In the US, which is where our packaging coatings RD&I facilities are headquartered.

Where do we get the recycled PET from?

From firms that sell recycled food grade, bio-based and petrol-based PET.

Are there other EvCote™ coatings?  What do they do?

The EvCote portfolio consists of ten coatings that offer broad suitability for all grease, oil and moisture barrier applications in the food service industry, as well as frozen and chilled food, pet foods and many other vertical market channels. One such EvCote product is already used as a grease barrier for French fry containers. The product was first launched at the 2012 London Olympics and can already be found in fast food chains in Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy.

In Europe, milk comes in (sort of) paper containers. Would our coating be suitable for this type of application?

The technology is a fit for the specific requirements of the paper cold cup market; short-term water barrier, heat seal, application and sustainability. Gable top cartons (dairy and juice) is a significant market with very different requirements; long-term resistance to not only moisture, but also enzymes, acids and other materials in these types of products. This will most likely take some different qualifications and properties that need to be explored. Our focus today is on paper cold cups.

1http://www.biogreenchoice.com/category_s/1866.htm - manufacturer of PLA packaging