Recyclable Multilayer Packaging by Means of Thermoreversibly Crosslinking Adhesive in the Context of Food Law

Polymers (Basel). 2020 Dec 15;12(12):2988. doi: 10.3390/polym12122988.


Lacking recyclability of multilayer packaging can be overcome by using a thermoreversible crosslinking adhesive consisting of maleimide- and furan-functionalized polyurethane-(PU-)prepolymers, reacting in a Diels-Alder-reaction. Here, the furan-functionalized PU-prepolymer carries furan-side-chains to avoid the usage of an additional crosslinking agent. Thus, N‑(2‑hydroxyethyl)maleimide and furfurylamine are the only two chemicals contained in the adhesive that are not listed in the appendix of EU Regulation 10/2011. Using migration modelling, it could be shown that, at 23 °C, both chemicals have lag-times of only a few minutes if 45 µm PE is used as a barrier. However, if the residual content is below 30 mg/kg, the legally specified maximum amount of 0.01 mg/kg food is not reached. After determining the diffusion coefficients and the activation energy of diffusion through ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH), it could be determined that the lag-time of the migrants can be extended to at least 9 years by the use of 3 µm EVOH. From a food law point of view, the use of the described adhesive is possible if the above‑mentioned measures are complied.

Keywords: Diels-Alder; EVOH; activation energy; adhesive; barrier testing; diffusion coefficient; migration; multilayer packaging; recycling.