This marks a key milestone for the pioneering NEXTLOOPP project which is a global initiative launched by sustainability consultant Nextek, that aims to produce the first commercially available high-quality food-grade PP (FGrPP), closing the loop on food-grade PP.
PFF’s trial centered on the production of a 350g Desto banderole pot, typically used in hot fill applications such as porridge, where PP is typically used for its ability to cope with high temperatures.
Primarily used in food packaging and some non-food household and personal care products, PP accounts for around 20 percent of the world’s plastic. However, it currently goes to waste-to-energy, landfill or is down-cycled into low-performance applications, due to an inability to separate food-grade products from non-food products at the recycling stage – wasting precious resources. The NEXTLOOPP project aims to close this loop.
The process uses unique marker technology to separate food-grade packaging at plastics recycling facilities. Innovative decontamination stages ensure compliance with food-grade standards in the EU and the USA. NEXTLOOPP is currently finalising dossiers for the application to EFSA and USFDA for food-grade accreditation.
The resin used in the trial contained 30% of food-grade recycled PP and PFF is one of the initial group of project members conducting trials to assess the integrity of the material and its viability within their production process.
When the material is commercialised, it has the potential to be utilised in PFF’s Desto and thermoformed food packaging, as well as being used in injection moulded packaging, where recycled material use is more challenging. This is notable as the 30% recycled content would ensure these products are compatible with the UK’s new Plastic Packaging Tax.
Lee Wilkinson, Group Supply Chain Director at PFF Group, said: “The company’s participation in the project and material trials demonstrate the business’s commitment to being at the forefront of developing a sustainable, circular plastics economy. It is ideal for UK food manufacturers seeking to alleviate the Plastic Packaging Tax and those who are rising to market and customer demands and expectations for more sustainable food packaging.
“The new material can ensure post-consumer PP is appreciated as the valuable resource it should be, by being recycled into food-approved packaging at scale. It will also greatly reduce CO2 emissions and divert waste from landfill and waste-to-energy.”
Leigh Wilson, Group Technical Manager added: “PFF has been at the forefront of producing packaging with high levels of post-consumer recycled PET for years, so it is great to see this development in PP recycling. The initial trials were technically very successful with the final product performing almost identically to our current virgin polymer product.”
Edward Kosior, Managing Director of Nextec and NEXTLOOPP told us that the next step for the ground-breaking project will be to expand the commercial production of the PPristine resins from the recycling stream and close the loop for PP packaging.
Watch this space!