Re|focus event looks to drive demand for recycled materials

June 10, 2015,  Washington, D.C.

by William R. Carteaux & Kim Holmes

SPI plans new event for April 2016 in Orlando

As professionals in plastics manufacturing, it is incumbent upon us to lead the industry in developing strategies that drive innovation, particularly when faced with an issue like recycling that affects the entire supply chain. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures suggest that only 9 percent of plastic was recycled from the municipal solid waste stream in 2012 (latest figures available). SPI thinks it’s time to create strategies that will help drive demand for recycled materials, thus we’ve launched the Re|focus Recycling Summit & Expo.

The potential to grow the use of recycled plastics in manufacturing is enormous. The U.S. plastics industry is the 3rd largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., producing nearly $400 billion in products. Frankly, it is impossible to look at those numbers and fail to see the potential to drive demand and create new opportunities for the recycling industry. Reducing supply chain obstacles and eliminating manufacturing barriers so we can make that happen in a meaningful way is the goal of Re|focus, slated for April 2016 in Orlando, Fla.

We’ve discussed this topic with many of you, and we think we agree that Re|focus fulfills an unmet niche in the recycling conference market. SPI plans to join brand owners and processors, as well as others who have never engaged in the recycling conversation for discussions that emphasize solutions. The event will challenge attendees to “refocus” on product design and manufacturing with an eye toward recycled content, design for recycling and driving sustainability in manufacturing. Creating a stronger market pull for recycled content will directly benefit recyclers and municipal collection efforts.

Industry leaders who look closely at what we have planned will see that SPI has conceived a fresh, new approach to addressing sustainability issues. With the recycling rate having been essentially stagnant for the past 10 years, doing more of the same will only produce the same results. It’s time for a new approach, new conversations and new tools for the industry. It’s time for Re|focus. We will no longer wait for the plastics industry to join the recycling industry’s conversation; instead we will take the conversation to them.  It is also important to note that all funds generated from the Re|focus Summit & Expo will be reinvested into the industry’s recovery and sustainability efforts.

If you have questions about this event, contact us. Re|focus is an exciting, innovative approach to one our industry’s most critical issues. To learn more, please visit http://www.refocussummit.org.

William R. Carteaux

SPI President and CEO

Kim Holmes

SPI Senior Director of Recycling and Diversions

Nampak issues recycled HDPE rallying cry in the UK

Friday, April 17 2015 Paul Hill – Plastics in Packaging

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Packaging manufacturer Nampak has called for the dairy industry to maintain its support towards the recycled plastics markets amid a period of uncertainty. The African company has insisted that its support for recycled material and the ensuing environmental benefits have not wavered.

Recycled high density polyethylene (rHDPE) is a widely-used material in the production of milk bottles. However, falling oil prices have led to reports of financial issues at the UK’s largest rHDPE supplier Closed Loop Recycling, with stories circulating that certain dairy companies have switched back to virgin HDPE.

“At Nampak we feel very passionately about upholding the recycled plastics industry in the UK, and we want others to join us in supporting this initiative,” said Eric Collins, managing director of Nampak Plastics. “We have worked hard to make the industry greener and more sustainable through continuously pushing levels of rHDPE in our bottles, and levels are currently at an all time high.

“This issue has been at the very heart of the Nampak business right from the very beginning when we worked with recycling suppliers to introduce rHDPE into milk bottles as a world-first. We will continue to support the industry despite the uncertain economic future and pledge to maintain levels of rHDPE in our bottles.”

Nampak claimed the Green Product of the Year award at the British Engineering Excellence Awards in 2013.

Survey Shows Strong Public Support for Recycled Content in Plastic Bottles and Legislation to Mandate Recycled Content

Published in Packaging Europe News  |  March 31, 2015

The Resource Association, the trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, has released the results of a survey of public opinion conducted by respected pollsters YouGov, showing clear public support for the use of recycled content in plastic bottles and legislation to require manufacturers to use recycled content.

In an online survey of 2,006 people across Great Britain, 68% of adults supported an increase in the price of a two pint plastic milk bottle by 0.1p in order to ensure that bottles were made from at least 30% recycled material and also recycled after use (38% strongly support, 30% tend to support). Only 10% of adults were opposed.

In the same survey, 71% of adults would support the Government introducing legislation to require manufacturers/producers using a minimum amount of recycled content in products with plastic packaging (37% strongly support, 34% tend to support). Only 6% of adults were opposed.

Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association said:  “The great British public ‘gets’ recycling, and is sending a clear signal to industry and retailers alike – they support the UK plastics recycling industry and would support the fractional additional cost of 0.1p on a two pint plastic milk bottle that it will take to sustain reprocessing of recycled plastic milk bottles in the UK. Interestingly, the public also support the idea of legislating to ensure that recycled content is used in plastic packaging.”

“The decision-makers in the supply chain must take note, wake up and act to support UK reprocessing through the storm of low oil prices and the turbulence this is causing to the sustainability of the UK plastic milk bottle processing infrastructure.”

“The public agrees with many in the industry that 0.1p a bottle is clearly a small price to pay for a sustainable recycling sector. It requires nothing more than those who made this important voluntary commitment – a commitment upon which our reprocessing infrastructure has been built – to fulfil their pledges under the Dairy Roadmap and Courtauld Commitment. They could do it this working day, and stem the growing uncertainty.”

For more information, visit www.resourceassociation.com

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.

 

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

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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

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.