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Can Kraft Stand Up Pouches Be Recycled?

Kraft Stand Up Pouches with Label

Many leading brands have already made the switch from traditional rigid containers to flexible pouches for their product packaging.

Some of the biggest advantages of using stand up pouches or barrier bags for products are a reduction in production costs and an increase in shipping or transportation efficiencies. Stand up pouches also help companies build their brand image and distinguish themselves in a crowded retail landscape full of competing products.

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There are numerous positive outcomes for brands that choose to embrace flexible packaging, but let’s take a moment to focus on the ways in which pouches benefit consumers. We live in an age where people crave convenience, and a lightweight, reclosable stand up pouch with an easy-open tear notch is going to be much easier to open, close, and take on the go than a hefty box, jug, or jar.

Pouches offer value to the end user because they keep food fresh and increase a product’s shelf life, and they reduce slack fill, a.k.a. difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of its product. People want to get the most “bang for their buck,” and trust is built when brands listen to consumer feedback and adjust their products and packaging accordingly.

Another key reason companies and consumers both embrace flexible retail packaging is its positive environmental impact. Much less fuel is required to transport a truckload of flexible pouches than heavy glass jars, for example, which cuts down on carbon emissions. Contrary to popular belief, pouches can also be recycled with other R-7 coded plastics. Unfortunately, not every consumer recycles, and it’s up to brands to properly communicate the importance of taking care of the environment to their customers.

We’re often asked by brand owners to help them select a type of flexible packaging that is sustainable, eco-friendly, and recyclable. Kraft stand up pouches are some of our best-selling packaging for environmentally conscious brands because their brown paper exterior visually communicates a more natural product, and the pouches can be flattened after use, taking up less space in trash cans and landfills.

A customer recently asked, "I spoke with you maybe a week ago about wanting to try some kraft bags. I would prefer recyclable materials."

There are a few things to remember when dealing with any stand up pouch, printed or plain: Stand up pouches are made from laminated barrier films, meaning different layers of film are sealed together to create a structure that can be formed into a stand up pouch or any other type of flexible bag, while creating barrier properties to keep the contents fresh. 

A stand up pouch made from kraft material that is laminated to other layers of film IS recyclable and landfill friendly. To be clear, kraft — once it is laminated — is NOT biodegradable, but it is recyclable. There are many good reasons why these pouches are not biodegradable, and they have to do with how well the product inside is protected.

To biodegrade, packaging has to be able to break down when exposed to light and air. However, one of the biggest advantages of using kraft stand up pouches for product packaging is that their laminated layers of barrier film and opaque finish block out light and air, which extends the shelf life of food and protects it from spoilage or contact with harmful outside contaminants.

This is the difference between your standard brown paper bag and a kraft stand up pouch. You wouldn’t expect food in a paper lunch bag to stay fresh at room temperature for an entire week. But in a food-grade, FDA-approved, reclosable kraft stand up pouch, food products will stay fresh because air, moisture, light, and pests are locked out for an extended period of time.

We understand both consumers and the brands they purchase from want to do their part to protect our environment. As such, we are proud members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, which recognizes and works with companies to create more sustainable packaging. The SPC created the How2Recycle label, which leading brands like Procter & Gamble, Target, Nestle, and Walmart have embraced for their branded products and print right on the packaging. This label is so important because, let’s face it: It’s not enough to use recyclable packaging. Brands MUST educate consumers on the where’s, why’s, and how’s of recycling it.

It can be a challenge to get consumers to recycle your packaging, but by understanding that flexible stand up pouches can be recycled (and custom printed to include the How2Recycle label and other sustainability initiatives), brands will be on their way toward bettering the environment and reaching a large base of eco-minded consumers.

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