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).

 
 

Cereal launches in a reusable zippered pouch

Kellogg uses a pouch instead of a traditional bag-in-box format.

By Liz Cuneo, Editor-in-Chief – Food & Beverage Packaging Magazine
July 9, 2013
For the first time, Kellogg is using post-consumer resin in a retail pouch; Kellogg is implementing a reusable pouch for its Kashi cereal from Envision Plastics. The EcoPrime™ pouch is the only FDA-approved, food-grade, recycled high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE) resin on the market in North America. The pouch is reusable, uses less material than the traditional bag-in-box and is a first-of-its-kind packaging that contains at least 15% recycled material including the first food-safe, post consumer HDPE plastic available. An added consumer perk is that after the cereal is gone, the pouch can be used as a freezer bag for leftovers or to store dry goods because the pouch has a zipper.

Kellogg’s reusable Kashi cereal pouch contains 15% EcoPrime food grade recycled HDPE Resin.

Kellogg’s reusable Kashi cereal pouch contains 15% EcoPrime food grade recycled HDPE Resin.

The main benefit for Kellogg in using EcoPrime™ is the reduction in the use of virgin HDPE. In addition, it ultimately reduces the amount of energy required to obtain virgin petroleum material from the earth. The pouch uses material that was reclaimed from the waste stream, while also providing the barrier needed to protect the food. Kellogg is currently using EcoPrime™ on a variety of Kashi cereals and is evaluating opportunities to expand their use of post-consumer HDPE. Food and Beverage Packaging asked Kellogg for more information about the new pouch and the motivation behind the decision.
Food and Beverage Packaging:  Has Kellogg/Kashi used post-consumer recycled material in the production of pouches before?
Kellogg: No, the new bag for GOLEAN Crisp!™ Cinnamon Crumble and Toasted Berry Crumble cereals is the first of its kind for Kashi as it’s made with post-consumer HDPE—a plastic made with materials reclaimed from the waste stream—rather than traditional HDPE.
FBP: Why did Kellogg/Kashi want to use post-consumer recycled plastic in their pouches?
Kellogg: More than one third of shoppers claim they want environmental packaging, and Kashi has cared about making foods with the health of people and planet in mind for more than 25 years. This new cereal bag offers an environmental benefit and allows us to deliver our foods safely to the consumer. Kashi retailers and consumers recognize and appreciate that commitment.
FBP: How did you start working with Envision Plastics?
Kellogg: Kashi is always seeking ways to improve the health of people and the planet. Through our supplier, we identified the opportunity to use post-consumer HDPE that’s safe for use in a flexible food bag.
FBP: Which Kellogg’s brands will be using the pouches?
Kellogg: We used post-consumer HDPE for a limited run of Kashi® GOLEAN Crisp! Cinnamon Crumble and Toasted Berry Crumble cereals in conjunction with Earth Day.
FBP: Why only a limited run?
Kellogg: We’re evaluating opportunities to use the new bags for other Kashi foods, as well as for our other brands, based on the feedback of our customers and retailers.

Republished from Food & Beverage Packaging Magazine, July 2013
Read the original article here:  http://tinyurl.com/keoru6n

Pureology Uses EcoPrime, FDA Approved Recycled HDPE in its Hydrate Collection

As posted on “inside cosmeceuticals”, January 13, 2012  http://www.insidecosmeceuticals.com/news/2012/01/pureology-hydrate-for-dry-color-treated-hair.aspx

Pureology ~ Hydrate for Dry Color-Treated Hair

IRVINE, Calif.—Pureology introduced its Hydrate Collection, a vegan hair care line designed for dry, color-treated hair. It contains the company’s Anti Fade Complex®, a blend of antioxidants and full spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens including heliogenol, plus vitamins C and E. In addition, the collection features a multi-weight protein complex made with soy, oat and wheat.  For improved environmental sustainability, each bottle is produced with 50 percent of EcoPrime, the only FDA-approved, post-consumer recycled High-density polyethylene (HDPE) from Envision Plastics.  For secondary packaging, Pureology decreased the amount of cardboard and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard boxes made from 100 percent recycled fibers. Pureology also added educational messages to these boxes, reminding purchasers to recycle the box and providing tips on how they can conserve water. Pureology’s shampoo and conditioner bottles are 100 percent recyclable.

The line includes:

Hydrate Shampoo: Sulfate-free, salt-free, color-preserving formula derived from coconut, corn and sugar with rose, sandalwood and green tea extracts. Hydrate Condition: Formulated with jojoba esters, shea butter, peppermint, sage and rosemary extracts and peppermint and corn mint essential oils. Hydrate LightCondition: Formulated with jojoba esters, shea butter, peppermint, sage and rosemary extracts and peppermint and corn mint essential oils. Hydrate HydraWhip: Formulated with avocado, shea, jojoba and mango butters, peppermint, sage and rosemary plant extracts and an aromatherapy blend of rose, plumeria, sandalwood, amber and vanilla. Hydrate ShineMax: This product is formulated with multi-weight silicones, a selected blend of some of the most technologically advanced silicones. It also contains a mushroom blend (Shiitake, Mannentake and Mucor Miehei) and an aromatherapy blend of bergamot, orange blossom, thyme, cardamom and cinnamon.

Recyclers Milk Bottle Market at Record Level

The following article appeared in Plastics & Rubber Weekly, a Plastics News Global Group Site on November 8, 2011.  The article discusses the increase in recycling of HDPE milk bottles in the United Kingdom.  The UK is significantly ahead of us here in the United States when it comes to including recycled HDPE in their milk bottles.  Greenstar, Closed Loop Recycling and Nampak (among others) are working together to include up to 50% recycled food grade HDPE back into milk bottles.  At this point in time, there are no milk bottles in the U.S. that contain recycled plastic.  EcoPrime™, the only FDA approved, food grade recycled HDPE for use in direct food contact applications in North America is now available to fulfill that need.  Visit http://www.envisionplastics.com/ecoprime.html to learn more about how EcoPrime™ can be used to reduce our use of virgin plastics, save energy and improve the sustainability of HDPE packaging in most food applications.

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Posted in Plastics & Rubber Weekly – 8 November 2011

By Anthony Clark

HDPE milk bottle recycling rates in the UK are up

The UK’s HDPE milk bottle recycling rate has reached an all time high, according to latest industry study.

The annual recycling study from Recoup shows that 76% of HDPE milk bottles consumed and collected in the UK during 2010 were recycled – a steady rise on 2009’s figure of 72%, following the substantial jump from 57% in 2008.

The report, which identifies recycling rates of all plastic bottle types, revealed that a total of 281,000 tonnes of plastic bottles were collected for recycling in 2010, with HDPE milk bottles representing a third of this total, or 93,000 tonnes.

This continued annual rise can be attributed to the growth of kerbside collections, with 21.7 million UK households now having access to a plastic kerbside collection. An estimated 83% of all household plastic bottles are collected for recycling via this route.

Despite the sustained rise in the number of HDPE milk bottles being recycled, an estimated 22,700 tonnes of HDPE milk bottles were still landfilled in 2010. This material is expected to cost £1.8m in landfill costs, and has a potential recyclable sales value of £8m.