"Forever Recyclable" instead of "Forever Chemicals": IonKraft revolutionises the plastic packaging industry

Celine Jörns

Startup Stories

The plastic packaging industry is facing a challenge: how can we use the potential of plastic packaging for recycling without compromising on performance and safety? Startup IonKraft has found a solution to make plastic packaging 100% recyclable. Using its plasma coating technologies, companies can now produce environmentally friendly plastic packaging without having to resort to non-recyclable materials. Learn more about IonKraft and their revolutionary technology that could change the future of the packaging industry in the following interview with Co-Founder and Managing Director Benedikt Heuer.

IonKraft team

How would you explain your solution in three sentences to a professional colleague in a chemical company? 

Plastic packaging has great potential for recycling. However, for packaging with barrier properties, recyclability remains a challenge. We have created a new game-changing plasma-based coating that creates a strong barrier on plastic packaging containers and is 100% recyclable. The coating is applied to plastic packaging containers with our innovative coating machines. Our technology can potentially replace non-recyclable barrier solutions and enable a fully circular economy in the packaging industry. 

What problem motivated you to start the company? 

Many chemical products have high demands on their packaging. These requirements are currently met using multi-material or fluorinated plastic containers. Multi-material containers combine inexpensive packaging plastics with expensive barrier plastics, which is a challenge for recycling. Fluorination processes create per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), so-called forever chemicals’, which cause alarming public health and environmental issues. IonKraft’s mission is to push the transition towards a circular economy and make plastic packaging 100% recyclable.

How do you convince a chemical company to set up a pilot project with you?

To address the issue of increasing plastic pollution, the European Commission put forth the EU Plastics Strategy for Circular Economy which established the main goals for plastic design, manufacture, use, and end-of-life management. By 2030, all plastic packaging placed on the EU market must be reusable or recyclable. 

Moreover, studies show that PFAS created by the fluorination of packaging are so stable that they persist in the environment for a long time and can accumulate in food chains. A ban on this process is expected in 2026 through the PFAS restriction by the European Chemicals Agency.

IonKraft’s silicon-based coating system is fully recyclable, non-reactive and food safe. The performance of the coating includes a gas barrier, migration barrier and corrosion protection. The barrier properties are superior to competitive technologies like Coextrusion (Multi-Layer) and Fluorination (PFAS) while also enabling the recyclability of the containers. 

Coating Process of 5L Jerrycan

Who are your current customer (groups) and who do you want your potential customers to be?

Our customers are packaging manufacturers who produce plastic bottles and containers. IonKraft’s coating can be applied on rigid plastic bottles of any shape and size, enabling light and fully recyclable and reusable plastic packaging. Therefore, our solution can be used in many applications, such as chemicals, food, pharma and cosmetics. We plan to target plastic packaging producers in our own and in neighbouring countries (Germany, Netherlands, France, Austria) and then expand to the rest of Europe, followed by US, Brazil and other emerging countries. 

Where do you see yourself in 3 years and how can 5-HT support you?

In 3 years, our goal is to realize the enormous potential of our technology and help customers, product brands and society to reduce the impact of plastic packaging and subsequently reducing CO2 impact on the climate. We aim to be the primary coating machine supplier to all major plastic manufacturers in the EU region.

5-HT could support IonKraft’s marketing and expansion into the chemical market segment through the vast network and ecosystem of 5-HT. 

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