Right: Nextek was founded in 2004 by Prof Edward Kosior to provide expertise in the design, optimisation, processing and recycling of post-consumer plastics

cling streams until now seems strange. In reality it is this polymer’s versatility that has caused it to be left out. Recycling really took off with bottles, starting with glass and continuing with plastic, as collection and recycling systems grew over the years. The fact that PP is used in so many applications, such as pots, tubs and trays and not predominantly in bottles like PET and HDPE, meant it was left out of the collection scope and consequently the markets for recycled PP had not been developed. This has changed over time, and now PP has reached a critical percentage of the packaging stream, it can be readily recycled once it is collected and re-manufactured into many end-use market products.” The focus of NEXTLOOPP is to have representa- tive innovation from the whole PP supply chain so that all issues could be addressed in such an important project. Major organisations, including brand-owners, packaging manufacturers, recyclers, technology companies, universities and industry associations, as well as end- users in the PP supply chain, have now joined NEXTLOOPP, with 36 participants to date. All the organisations share a vision of demonstrating that PP food packaging has a circular destination and want to be first to market in this area. The initiative is also rapidly becom- ing global with organisations from the UK, USA, Europe, Australia, Malaysia and Africa joining. The key focus has always been UK/ EU and SE Asia, however, there is also growing interest from other regions for dedicated projects. NEXTLOOPP participants provide financial

support and their unique expertise and, in some cases, their specialised facilities to the project. They also participate in the validation of the food-grade recycled PP within their specific products, which brings multiple proven examples to real-world evaluation. The resources that the project brings together represent the best-in-class to ensure that the best possible outcomes can be achieved. The mission of NEXTLOOPP is to create circular

food-grade recycled PP resin from post-consumer packaging. “The goal is to establish a supply chain model for the collection, sorting and re-processing of food-grade PP packaging,” adds Kosior. “From there we aim to manufacture high-quality and


food-grade PP resins efficiently as stand-alone materials or as high-performance hybrid blends with virgin resins that can be used as single stage drop-in replacements with high levels of recycled content. Over the next 18 months we will shift from pilot to large scale operations to eventually create rPP that can be used across a wide range of applications and products to meet recycled packaging targets.”

He continues: “By the end of the project there will be a large body of scientific work that will be the basis for demonstration that compliance with the major food-grade standards can be achieved through the NEXTLOOPP technology applied in the recycling processes. This will be backed up with extensive examples of processing and produc- tion of recycle-content PP packaging to validate the food contact performance under a wide range of application conditions. In parallel, the design and labelling of packaging will be refined to ensure that packaging can be uniquely separated from non-food packaging by automatic sorting at high speeds to achieve the stand- ards required to meet the economics of recycling, as well as the quality requirements of the brand owners and regula- tory authorities. By the end of the project, we expect a number of companies to be ready to license the NEXT-

LOOPP process to manufacture food-grade rPP, as well as attending to the global markets that are impatiently waiting for food-grade rPP materials.” Kosior is confident that the outcomes of the

NEXTLOOPP project will create significant pressure on brand owners and processing convertors outside of the project for the inclusion of high- quality food-grade rPP materials into their prod- ucts. In addition, it is anticipated that it will spur the development of additional technologies in the labelling and sorting of PP packaging, as well as the evolution of packaging that is truly designed to be recycled into the circular economy, making the task for recyclers more effective and economic. He also expects to have extensive interest and cooperation from virgin resin suppliers in the role of providing the technology and services that they excel in, such as the modification and compound- ing of these rPP resins into high performance


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