UK Recycled plastics markets experiencing ‘unprecedented challenges’

Original Post By Annie Kane | Resource – Daily news and features for the waste to resources industry

Read the original article here:  http://resource.co/article/recycled-plastics-markets-experiencing-unprecedented-challenges-9943  |  20 March 2015

Industry stakeholders are urgently calling on retailers to switch back to using recycled plastic packaging, as the market is currently experiencing ‘unprecedented challenges’.

Recycled plastics markets experiencing ‘unprecedented challenges’

 Resource Minister Dan Rogerson held a meeting with major stakeholders in the plastics recycling supply chain at his office at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) on Tuesday (18 March), to discuss the need for continued commitment to recycled plastic packaging in the face of challenges facing the plastics reprocessing industry as a result of falling oil prices.

The price of oil has dropped to under US$60 (£40) a barrel for the first time in five years, thus making the price of virgin plastic fall and leading some businesses to switch back from recycled polymers to virgin plastic. (As a result of this, and ‘operational challenges and unfavourable market conditions’, one plastic reprocessor, ECO Plastics – now known as ECOPlastics Recycling – sought acquisition last year following financial difficulties.)

As such, Rogerson called the meeting on Tuesday to discuss the market challenges and voice his support for recycled plastic packaging.

At the meeting, which included representatives of the packaging, dairy, resource management and reprocessing industries, stakeholders also committed to improve their recycling rates further under the voluntary Courtauld Commitment and the Dairy Roadmap, which commits dairy farmers to increase the recycled content in plastic milk bottles.

Rogerson commented: “The plastic packaging supply chain has worked very hard to increase the amount of packaging being recycled, with the full support of government.

“I welcome commitment from across the supply chain to deliver on the existing agreement. This week’s meeting makes clear our commitment to go even further, continuing to embrace new technology to make sure more recycled plastic is used throughout the supply chain.

“This industry-wide commitment to recycling is delivering real environmental benefits and also creating jobs, helping to build a stronger UK economy.”

Calls for an ‘urgent switch back to rHDPE’

Members of the waste and resources industry have welcomed Rogerson’s support, but have urgently called for retailers to ‘switch back’ to using recycled plastic to help protect the ‘vital UK recycling infrastructure’.

Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association, a trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, commented: “Dan Rogerson’s intervention this week was timely and necessary, and we are grateful to him for his critical attention to the problems that plastics reprocessors are facing as a result of low oil prices and the switch back to virgin polymer by some of the major players in the supply chain.”

However, he warned: “The meeting heard many general messages of support for the continued use of recycled content in line with the commitments made under the Dairy Roadmap and Courtauld Commitment, facilitated by WRAP. However, these were not backed by specifics in the meeting and, frankly, warm words are not enough.

“We call on all the signatories of the Dairy Roadmap and Courtauld Commitment to honour their commitments to recycled content, but this now means more is needed than merely a general statement of intent – it needs an urgent switch back to specifying rHDPE [recycled high-density polyethylene] with immediate effect.”

Georgeson added that while there are “cost pressures” on all parts of the supply chain, reprocessors are “carrying the cost burden and most of the risk”.

As such, he said a long-term view is needed, and “a reminder of the sustainability commitments made by retailers and major brand owners is now necessary, along with this urgent appeal to take the long view, stand firm with the reprocessors, help them weather the storm and protect this vital UK recycling infrastructure for many years to come”.

He warned: “If we lose it for the sake of 0.1p on the cost of a standard plastic milk bottle, not only will it be a hole under the waterline for the voluntary approach taken by WRAP, government and the industry, it will make all the warm words about sustainability and the circular economy sound very hollow…. Surely 0.1p on the cost of a milk bottle is not a high price to pay for the sustainability of the UK rHDPE recycling infrastructure?”

Chair of the Resource Association Peter Clayson added that the body is “ready to assist the minister and industry in any further discussion that may be needed to accelerate this week’s important intervention by him to a level where urgent and positive decisions can be made by those who have them in their gift”.

Now is the time when action really counts’

Urgent calls for action have also been voiced by the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Steve Lee, who said: “Global market conditions may be challenging at the current time, but it is essential that this progress is maintained and supported, and CIWM welcomes Defra’s strong statement to this effect today…

“However, now is the time when action really counts as the plastics markets experience unprecedented challenges. Ultimately, the imperative goes beyond simply meeting targets and legal obligations, it is about ‘tooling up’ to ensure that the UK directly reaps the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and resource efficiency.

“It is also about delivering a very positive message to consumers that their recycling efforts are making a difference here at home. Seeing recycling at work in the form of products and packaging with recycled content on the supermarket shelf provides a tangible everyday example that helps encourage behaviour change and drive greater participation in recycling.”

Industry backing

Members of the food and drink industries, as well as packaging bodies, have supported the calls for more commitment, with Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), saying: “We are aware of difficulties in the plastics recycling industry and are supportive of the principles of recycled content in packaging and products.

“Our members are signed up to a number of commitments in this area and will continue to work towards them, but recognise that this is a difficult market and greater attention needs to be paid to the long-term sustainability of the UK recycling industry.”

Dr Judith Bryans, CEO of Dairy UK, added: “Under the Dairy Roadmap, dairy companies have worked hard to achieve the target of 30 per cent recycled material in HDPE milk bottles by 2015. There will be further progress in the future.

“As an industry, we have a clear understanding of the important role of the plastic recycling sector in allowing us to meet these ambitious targets and help secure a sustainable future for the UK dairy industry.”

Find out more about the problems facing the plastics industry or learn more about the Courtauld Commitment and Dairy Roadmap.

Vega Earns Recycled Content Certification by SCS Global Services for 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bottles

EcoPrime™ Food Grade Recycled HDPE Plastic Resin Supplied by Envision Plastics

EMERYVILLE, CA–(Marketwired – Jun 25, 2014) – Plant-based nutrition company, Vega, has received 100% post-consumer Recycled Content certification from leading third-party certification firm, SCS Global Services, for its recycled post-consumer (PCR) plastic bottles. Vega’s new packaging, used for its popular nutritional supplements, is made with Envision Plastics’ EcoPrime™ resin, the first food grade recycled HDPE (#2) plastic available in the marketplace.

Vega-One-Product-Group_original

Vega uses EcoPrime 100% post-consumer recycled food grade resin in its packaging, available only from Envision Plastics

“Vega and Envision are leading their industry by developing new technology for recycling HDPE plastic into food grade packaging material,” said Alicia Godlove, Materials Manager for SCS. “We are pleased to have audited their sourcing and manufacturing systems to confirm the accuracy of their 100% recycled content claim.”

Vega launched its sustainable packaging initiative after an internal sustainability audit revealed that over 70% of its carbon footprint was related to its packaging materials, specifically petroleum-derived virgin HDPE plastic. As part of its “Journey to Zero” initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Vega partnered with Envision Plastics to develop a system for recycling plastic jugs, milk bottles, and other #2 plastics into a food grade vessel.

“We are pleased to have been recognized by SCS for the accuracy of our PCR claim,” said Charles Chang, Founder and President of Vega. “Our commitment to sustainability is at the core of our company and we are proud of the strides we have taken to improve the packaging options not just for ourselves, but our entire industry.”

“Working with SCS to gain a 100% post-consumer certification for our EcoPrime™ resin in Vega’s packaging was a pleasure,” stated Tamsin Ettefagh, Envision’s Vice President of Sales & Procurement.  “SCS was very thorough in their audit and assessment of our material sources, manufacturing processes and product quality.  We were very happy to participate in this process that enabled our important customer, Vega, to obtain this certification for their products.”

SCS has been certifying recycled content claims since 1989. The certification audit determined that Vega and Envision’s production data and material tracking procedures are maintained and that recycled material was derived from verifiable suppliers.

According to Vega’s research, in 2014 its switch from virgin plastic to 100% certified PCR bottles will result in 278 fewer tons of CO2 emissions (63% less), divert 233 tons of plastic from the waste stream, and use 86% less energy than virgin plastic.

 

Bain Capital / Consolidated Container Acquire Envision Plastics and Ecoplast Corporation

On June 17, 2014, Bain Capital, through its affiliated investment in the plastic packaging sector, Consolidated Container Company (“CCC”), purchased Envision Plastics and Ecoplast Corporation, leading plastic recyclers, from their founders Massoud Rad and Parham Yedidsion. Terms of the transaction were not immediately disclosed.

Seth Meisel, a managing director of Bain Capital, said, “We believe that recycling and sustainability are megatrends in the economy. We are excited to support the continued growth of Envision and Ecoplast, in building on Massoud and Parham’s legacy. We believe that recycling is both a good financial investment and an important industry for our society.”

Envision and Ecoplast will operate as a stand-alone business led by Scott Booth and the rest of the existing management team. Mr. Booth will report to Sean Fallmann, CCC’s CEO. “We are very excited to add the unique capabilities and products as well as the talented people of Envision and Ecoplast to CCC,” said Mr. Fallmann.

Mr. Booth said, “This is a tremendous opportunity for Envision and Ecoplast.  Parham and Massoud have been fantastic owners of the business, and we wish them the very best in their future endeavors.  Speaking for the employees of Envision and Ecoplast, we are excited to partner with our new owners, who also share our vision of growth, and are prepared to continue to invest behind the full potential of our proprietary food grade recycled HDPE (EcoPrime™) and our unique color matched recycled HDPE (PRIMSA™) technologies as we continue to grow our business.”

Parham Yedidsion and Massoud Rad said, “Envision Plastics and Ecoplast Corporation are leading players in the recycled plastics sector and have been built on a solid foundation. We are thankful to our employees and management team for their continual efforts and have no doubt that the Bain Capital group will only expand upon the capabilities of these companies. Lastly, we want to acknowledge and thank our transaction partners, FocalPoint Partners, LLC (Investment Bank), and Buchalter Nemer (Legal) for their professionalism and guidance.”

About Bain Capital

Founded in 1984, Bain Capital one of the world’s foremost privately-held alternative investment firms, with more than $70 billion of assets under management. With deep experience investing in and building businesses around the world, the firm has made private equity, growth, and venture capital investments in more than 450 companies, across a variety of industries including consumer/retail, financial services and institutions, healthcare, industrials, and technology, media and telecommunications. Bain Capital has offices in Boston, New York, Chicago, Palo Alto, London, Munich, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Sydney. For more information please visit http://www.baincapitalprivateequity.com

About Envision Plastics

Starting with a concept and state of the art HDPE recycling systems, Envision Plastics was formed in 2001 after obtaining proprietary rights and patented technologies from Union Carbide. At the same time, two newly acquired plastics recycling facilities, in Reidsville, NC, and in Chino, California, provided the manufacturing platforms needed for recycled HDPE resin production. The two facility locations also allowed for ease in distribution to customers from either the east or west coast. Envision Plastics is a recognized industry leader in post-consumer recycled polyolefin resins (HDPE). An inert resin, HDPE does not contain BPA, phthalates, heavy metals or allergens. Our company has built our industry position through superior product quality and value-added product offerings that distinguish what we offer customers from the industry norm for recycled plastics companies. As a result, our portfolio of clients includes premier users of PCR and leaders in the next generation of recycling processes. If you have questions about the plastics recycling process, the production of HDPE resins or Envision Plastics’ products and services, call customer service at (336) 342-4749 ext. 233. We look forward to speaking with you.

About Ecoplast Corporation

Established in 1963, Ecoplast Corporation is a leading supplier of recycled and custom compounded resins in the United States. Fifty years of experience in the thermoplastics industry has given us unparalleled expertise and a well-respected reputation for excellence in quality, customer service and integrity. As California’s oldest thermoplastics recycler and custom compounder with a sizeable investment in a new facility and state of the art equipment, we are well prepared to meet the challenges of plastics molders, suppliers and companies seeking ways to utilize sustainable raw materials in product manufacturing or find a corporate recycling solution. Whether you are a molder, an original product manufacturer or a company exploring ways to utilize sustainable raw materials in your product manufacturing or to establish a corporate recycling program, call our office at (909) 590-5730. Find out how Ecoplast products and services can help you exceed your business goals.

About Consolidated Container

CCC is a leading developer and manufacturer of rigid plastic packaging solutions in the U.S. CCC specializes in customized mid- and short-run packaging solutions, serving a diverse customer base in the dairy, household chemicals, food, industrial/specialty chemicals, water, and beverage/juice markets. With 56 manufacturing facilities and approximately 2,300 employees, CCC has an integrated, nationwide network of manufacturing and service locations to deliver reliable and cost-effective packaging solutions to meet the needs of a wide range of customers and markets. CCC provides standard and custom packaging solutions to its customers. From its state-of the art Panella Engineering and Development Center to its experienced manufacturing teams across its network, CCC delivers high performance, cost- effective design solutions to meet even the most challenging container applications. For more information, please visit http://www.cccllc.com.

UK Plastics Recycler Opens New Processing Line

Originally posted in Recycling Today on April 29, 2014

International Recycling News, Plastics
Closed Loop Recycling expects to increase the capacity at its facility to 55,000 metric tons per year.

RTGE Staff

CLOSED-LOOPCABLelowres

Vice Cable (left) and Chris Dow examine the new plastics recycling line at Closed Loop’s Dagenham facility

United Kingdom-based plastics recycling firm Closed Loop Recycling has officially opened a new plastic milk jug processing line at its Dagenham, England, facility. The company, which claims it is the first in the world to recycle both PET and HDPE bottles into food-grade material for food and drink packaging, has invested £12 million that will increase capacity at the plant to 55,000 metric tons per year. Closed Loop Recycling says the additional line will help create “the most advanced plastics purification facility in the U.K.”

Taking part in the commissioning of the plant was the U.K.’s Business Secretary Vice Cable. “This new recycling line will create jobs and growth in a growing green industry,” Cable commented at the ceremony. “The significant investment in the Dagenham plant will also mean less of our plastic bottles being sent to landfill or exported for recycling. It is precisely the sort of project which can support the U.K.’s transition to a green economy.”

Chris Dow, Closed Loop Recycling’s CEO, says, “Recycled milk and water bottles are a massive win for the circular economy. We discussed with the Secretary of State and his team how we can provide economic drivers to reprocess these valuable resources in the U.K., rather than being exported abroad for recycling. We can then work to influence recycling behavior across the supply chain, from consumers to brands, in order to increase collection rates.”

Dow also said the company has established a joint green initiative with TEG, a food recycler located at the East London Sustainable Industries Park. “We will be using waste heat from the TEG facility to heat our wash lines for our recycled plastic, making significant carbon and financial savings.”

Closed Loop Recycling’s Dagenham plant has been operating since December 2008.

http://www.recyclingtoday.com/Article.aspx?article_id=164594

Lightweight Recycled Content Milk Bottle from Nampak Hits 500 Million Sales

The following article the highlights the success of the UK dairy industry’s use of recycled HDPE plastic in milk jugs.  The technology is commercially available here in the U.S., but there is no desire or incentive for the dairy industry here to include recycled content in our milk jugs.  Milk jugs are the gold standard of “recyclability” and are used extensively as feedstock for recycled HDPE products.  It would be the ultimate in sustainability if the circle could be completed and milk jugs turned back into milk jugs, instead of into detergent or shampoo bottles.  Envision produces EcoPrime, food grade recycled HDPE resin, which would be ideal for use in the production of milk jugs. – Ed.

Reprinted from Resource Efficient Business

Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2014 | Author: Paul Sanderson

Nampak’s Infini milk bottle has sold 500 million units in the UK in supermarkets such as Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

Image

Since its launch in 2012, the Infini HDPE bottle has saved 34,000 tonnes of carbon and 16,000 tonnes of material.

According to Nampak, the bottle is the strongest and lightest on the British market.

In the last 12 months, Nampak has also pushed up the recycled content in the form of rHDPE in the four pint bottle to 30 per cent and has created a four pint bottle weighing just 32g, representing a 20 per cent saving on the standard bottle.

Nampak Plastics managing director Eric Collins said: “This is a very exciting time for Nampak. For the last six years, the team has been focused on continuously innovating and pushing boundaries where possible with Infini, and this is now showing exceptional tangible results, reducing the carbon footprint of the plastic milk bottle.”

Marks & Spencer commercial and environmental packaging manager Andrew Speck added: “Since Nampak helped us launch the first milk bottles with post-consumer recycled content in 2007 it has continued to deliver innovative packaging solutions for us, most recently this year’s 30 per cent recycled content bottles that we are currently trialling.

“Nampak continues to push the barriers around performance and sustainability, and we look forward to working with it on more ground-breaking innovations into the future.”

Recycled plastics: What Goes Where and How

An article featuring us this Sunday in the local paper…

Greensboro News & Record  | Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2014 1:15 pm   

http://www.news-record.com/opinion/columns/article_422ce71a-b2ac-11e3-add5-001a4bcf6878.html          

By Mary McClellan

Ah, plastics. We meet again.

To some, figuring out which plastics to recycle is more confusing than filling out a tax return. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What really happens to Greensboro’s plastic bottles?

ReCommunity Greensboro, the city’s recycling processor, sorts plastics into several categories. Each is baled and sent to different reprocessing facilities. Any plastic container, no matter what it becomes later, first must be chopped into pieces, called flake. The flake is then sent through a sterilization and decontamination process that uses water flotation to remove pathogens, food waste and other objects.

The flake is dried and a special fan removes the tiny pieces of label that are mixed with the flake. What’s left is clean plastic, ready to be melted and reformed into new products.

After cleaning, what happens next varies. As the different numbers on plastic containers would suggest, there are chemical differences in plastics. The number on the bottom, called a Resin Identification Code, is an industry standard that tells manufacturers the chemical make-up of the plastic. Each number represents one of seven code categories.

Those seven resin codes can rarely, if ever, be intermixed to make products. A plastics expert once advised me to look at plastics like making pancakes and biscuits. Pancakes and biscuits have the same ingredients: Bisquick and water (sorry, the analogy doesn’t work with a made-from-scratch recipe). But each contains different amounts of those ingredients, which create very different dishes.

So, if you wanted to make biscuits, but you added the pancake mix, would you get a “biscake”? Nope. You’d get a mess. It’s the same with plastic.

Try to make No. 1 plastic with some No. 5 mixed in, or No. 2 with a pinch of No. 6, and you’ll get nothing you can use — and possibly a fire. In fact, there are even variations in the make-up of plastics within the same numerical classification that cannot be mixed, either (a No. 1 take-out box versus a No. 1 bottle, for instance). To borrow the wise words of an inexplicably popular song from the 1990s, “You gotta keep ’em separated.”

If you’re still thinking, “My bottles will just end up in the landfill anyway,” think again. If you’ve ever shopped at virtually any store here, you’ve probably come across a product made from remanufactured Greensboro plastic.

Greensboro’s No. 1 plastics (PETE, or polyethelyne terephthalate, which I can’t pronounce, either) such as soda, juice and water bottles, are sold to Mohawk Industries and Shaw Industries, which melt and spin the PETE into fibers to weave into carpeting. You’ll see these recycled carpet lines for sale at Lowes, Home Depot and other major carpet distributors.

Envision Plastics, housed in nearby Reidsville, remanufactures our No. 2 plastic (HDPE, or high-density polyethylene) into recycled-content resin, essentially turning it back into raw material.

What’s cool about Envision is the optical color-sorting technology used to create specific resin colors from the random mix of flake that runs through its system. Brands such as Downy, Tide and Method use Envision’s pre-colored resin to make their bottles and jugs (bypassing the plastic dying process). Envision also supplies plastic resin to the popular Green Toys line, sold by Amazon and Target and Toys and Co. in Greensboro.

The remainder of the city’s plastics, No. 3-No. 7 containers and bulky, rigid plastic, comprise a pretty small portion (10 percent or less). ReCommunity sells bales of No. 3-7 plastic to a re-processor, where they are broken open, further sorted, re-baled and sold again. It’s difficult to know exactly what each of these plastics is made into, but the products include batteries, plastic dock floats and even fuels.

These plastics have little value on the market, partly because they are lightweight, inconsistent and generated in low volumes by municipal recycling programs. But there’s hope that more uses for them will develop in the future, particularly in the energy arena.

The next time you meet a plastic you’re not sure about, just take a deep breath and use this simple rule: If it’s a hard plastic container, recycle it. And if you’re ever in doubt, call the city at 373-2489.

As for whether obsessing over numbers on the bottom of a shampoo bottle is worth it? The city earns close to $1 million a year from the sale of recyclables and avoids spending another $1 million in landfill tipping fees.

As with anything else, knowledge is the key to making the best choices.

Mary McClellan (mary.mcclellan@recommunity.com) is recycling program coordinator, ReCommunity Recycling (www.recommunity.com).

 
 

Aptar Unveils New Recycling Friendly Valve and Liner Systems

Orlando, FL

Last week at the Association of Post-consumer Plastics Recyclers (APR) Technical Committee meeting, we had a major breakthrough for recycling.  For years the PET bottle recycling stream, and often the HDPE stream, has been contaminated by silicone used in valves and liners of dispensing closure systems.

Recently Aptar, a major global closure manufacturer, learned of this issue.  Since the silicone contamination is often caused by the closure valves and liners in items such as ketchup and mustard containers and swivel caps used in some sports drinks; Aptar searched for alternative materials that would not threaten the recycling stream but work equally as well in all applications.   They are promoting a polyolefin based thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) replacement for silicone which will solve the problem.

We, at Envision, have experienced silicone contamination at least six times in our recycled resin production resulting in a $20,000 plus loss in revenue per event.  We are extremely grateful for a solution.  Even though silicone is primarily used in PET bottle applications as an ingredient in closures, many HDPE bales are speckled with PET bottles that have the silicone closures with them.  So, if we miss sorting out the PET bottles prior to our grinding and washing; (although the PET we will sink out), the closure will float along with the silicon valve and liners.

Silicone is a thermoset resin.  It will soften in our extrusion process, go through the screen pack and then reform into the original ground shape.  Often at the HDPE bottle blow molder this ground silicone will go through their extruder, soften in the heat, go through their screen pack, resolidify, and create a hole where the piece of silicone contaminates the wall of the bottle, creating a hole.  Just one ground valve or liner can cause 100’s of blow outs and create major production issues for our customers, causing them to shut down their system, purge out the recycled resin, and reject the silicone contaminated resin.  We will never be able to remove the pieces of silicone once they are our HDPE recycled pellets, making them worthless to our customers.

Having a major closure manufacturer, such as Aptar, come up with an alternative that is no longer a contaminant, but can act as a compatabilizer, (such as TPE is known to be), is music to our ears.  The PET recyclers must be even happier because they often see the silicone contamination in the floatable polyolefin’s that they try to sell.  Let’s hope the Consumer Product Companies; which rely primarily on cost savings when evaluating component material changes, will yet embrace this new technology as a method to improve sustainability.  Kudos to Aptar for creating this fix and bringing it to APR Technical Committee’s attention.