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INNOVATION | RIGID PACKAGING


Right: Plastic packaging waste such as pots, tubs and trays needs to be captured for recycling, says Plastics Recyclers Europe


sorting out pots, tubs and trays, is just one of the examples of making the change,” says Werner Kruschitz, PRE’s PP/PO Working Group Chairman. Driving the uptake of recyclates is equally


blends. Ultimately, the goal is for food-grade rPP to become as ubiquitous as rPET in many diverse and demanding applications. A new study published by Plastics Recyclers


Europe, HDPE & PP Market in Europe: State of Play, has identified key measures to advance recycling of rigid polyolefins, which include increased quality collection and sorting to reach the EU recycling targets. PRE says HDPE and PP account for almost a third of European converters’ demand and are predominantly used in packaging applications. Out of the 16.7m tonnes placed on the market, an estimated 6.6m tonnes is rigid polyolefin packaging. With the current EU recycling capacity for HDPE


and PP at 1.2m tonnes for post-consumer and an additional 0.5m tonnes for pre-consumer waste, the recycling facilities can treat roughly 18% of rigid polyolefin waste, says PRE. The scaling up of the EU plastics recycling capacity hinges on ensuring that the maximum of plastic waste is captured for recycling. Advancing collection and sorting were identified as key to unlock the much-needed investments in the recycling of rigid polyolefins. “Capturing additional tonnages and


important, says the study. “The recycled rigid polyolefins content must be widened,” says Herbert Snell, PRE’s HDPE Working Group Chairman. “The existing trend of fully circular uses of rigid polyole- fin recyclate, where rHDPE from bottles is used in bottle production, and HDPE and PP crates can be recycled back into crates, must continue to grow.” Making rigid polyolefins fully circular depends as well on ensuring a product is readily recyclable. This will allow the highest value of the material at its end-of-life to be maintained but will also help make recycling more cost-effective while meeting the requirements of even the most demanding applications. Additionally, filling the existing legislative gaps to drive the uptake of recyclates by, for example, using public procurement, is yet another solution that must be fully exploited. The study concludes that the rigid polyolefin


stream has the potential for a greater contribution to plastic packaging recycling targets. However, to develop recycling infrastructure and markets further in Europe, collaboration of the industry together with European policymakers is critical. RecyClass has reported on tests carried out by an independent laboratory into the recycling compatibility of vinyl alcohol (EVOH) functional barriers in PP rigid packaging. The findings demonstrated that EVOH combined with a PP- grafted maleic anhydride (PP-g-MAH, with MAH greater than 0.1%) tie layer does not jeopardise the recyclability of a package. Testing was performed on a PP bottle consisting


of 6% of EVOH with 3% of PP-grafted-MAH tie layers (by weight), as well as on a PP sheet with the same levels of the EVOH and PP-g-MAH. The German laboratory Institut für Kunststofftechnolo- gie und recycling (IKTR) was tasked with carrying


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IMAGE: D ELDRIDGE


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