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May 04, 2012

Plastic bottle recycling initiative gains momentum

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Engineering|Africa|Education|Extrupet|Packaging|PETCo|Pick|PROJECT|Projects|Safety|Sustainable|System|Unilever|Waste|Woolworths|Africa|South Africa|Extrupet’s B2B Recycling Plant|Capital Equipment|Equipment|Food|Food Packaging|Manufacturing|Packaging|Products|Environmental|Belinda Booker|Chandru Wadhwani|Waste|Insulation|PhoenixPET
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Petco, the South African polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic recycling company, has requested proposals that contribute to the visible recycling of PET plastic bottles identified with the #1 polymer identification code.

The proposals, which form part of Petco’s Category B projects, should support existing postconsumer PET collection and recycling networks, while encouraging the establishment of new such networks. Further, the proposals should also aim to raise aware- ness and assist in consumer education, and envisage creating sustainable jobs and providing skills development.

Petco Category B project manager Belinda Booker tells Engineering News that Category A projects involve the three Petco contracted recyclers, which collect plastic bottles and convert them into other products, such as fibre, roof insulation and food packaging.

“The budget for Category B was approved last year, and Petco has now decided to support both formal and informal collectors,” she notes.

Petco Category B projects cover a num- ber of the procedural aspects related to recycling, including PET plastic recovery and recycling; information, awareness and communication campaigns; clean-up campaigns and litter awareness; education and training projects; industry and the private- sector joint venture projects; projects driven by provincial and local municipalities; and capital equipment.

The deadline for proposals closes on May 15.

In other news, local recycling firm and Petco member Extrupet has engaged in a recycled PET plastic brand overhaul, aiming to advocate the use of recycled PET resin in food packaging. This will see the company introducing the PhoenixPET brand this year.

Extrupet aims to increase market demand for the globally certified recycled food-grade PET it produces locally, and reduce the excess burden that used food packaging is placing on South Africa’s landfill sites by motivating the public and packaging manufacturers.
Extrupet COO Chandru Wadhwani explains the rise in green consumer consciousness and a need for local consumer brands and their retailers to display better sustainability credentials have justified the recycler’s investment in creating the new brand.
“Packaging is increasingly being recognised as a vital concern in any brand’s value chain – owing not only to pressure from environmental nongovernmental organisations, but also as sustainability reporting and the King III Guidelines place increasing emphasis on an environmental-conscious supply chain,” says Wadhwani.

Further, he explains every player in the massive global plastic industry has had to grapple with the environmental results of the world’s ever-increasing reliance on plastic products. “Perhaps more so in the fast-paced, one-off use food packaging industry,” he notes.

With PhoenixPET, Extrupet hopes to dispel local market myths regarding recycled food packaging. Not only is PET 100% recyclable, but as a result of its properties and durability, it can be recycled many times over.

In 2009, Extrupet became the first ‘food-grade’ PET bottle-to-bottle (B2B) recycling plant in Africa, and remains so to date. Extrupet’s B2B recycling plant is the first globally to be certified by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) for meeting stringent food safety standards, and remains the only BRC-accredited PET recycler globally.

PhoenixPET also meets the US Food and Drug Administration’s stringent food safety standards, and is already used in food packaging by top retailers in South Africa, such as Woolworths and Pick n Pay.

Extrupet aims to have a minimum percentage of PhoenixPET used in all PET packaging and, in the near future, aims to establish pockets of new packaging made from 100% PhoenixPET.

Multinational consumer goods company Unilever has endorsed PhoenixPET by using 25% in their Sunlight bottles, with plans to increase this to 50% later this year.
Wadhwani adds that the more appealing brand should inspire key stakeholders such as fast-moving consumer goods companies and retailers to cobrand and offer consumers a tangible brand to connect with in meeting the environmental challenges of modern-day living.
Extrupet has the capacity and provides the quality assurance to meet the growing local and regional demand in the bottle- blowing and sheet thermoforming markets for environmental-friendly, recycled raw materials.

Further, it has upgraded its Vacurema reprocessing system to allow for a higher residence time in the vacuum reactors, improved the quality of the material and increased its installed production capacity from 400 Mt to 500 Mt a month early in 2011.
With the generation of a higher IV-resin, a greater percentage of the local PET plastic bottle market has now been able to introduce this valuable material into its stable. Additionally, the percentage use of this mate- rial when blended with virgin polymer has increased from conservative introduction rates of 10% to, in many cases, as much as 50%.
PhoenixPET is produced in two different grades – one with a standard IV for thermo- forming uses as in the manufacturing of sandwich packs and grape punnets, and the other, a higher IV for the manufacture of PET plastic bottles.
“We envision PhoenixPET becoming a benchmark for other packaging mediums on what is achievable when aspiring to achieve a cradle-to-cradle solution for packaging waste reuse,” concludes Wadhwani.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
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