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).

 
 

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Green packaging shifts up the priority list for brand owners and consumers

By Chris BARKER , 29-Nov-2013

100% recycled packaging logo

Increasing environmental awareness means that sustainable packaging is becoming a higher priority for both consumers and brand owners, as evidenced by the number of cosmetics firms opting for a greener option.

Elizabeth Arden this week chose the Airopack dispensing system, and this adds to the long list of brands opting for environmentally friendly packaging in order to appeal to customers.

The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide products are being produced through the Airopack Full Service Operation, which will see the dispensers produced, filled, sleeved and packed to meet the brand’s specifications.

Increasing awareness

“Brand owners become more aware of their responsibility in today’s society. As environmental awareness shifts higher up the priority list at both consumers and brand owners, sustainable products become increasingly important to express a brand message,” Airopack marketing manager Caren Kuijs tells to CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com

“Over the last 10 years we have identified an enormous growth in cosmetic formulations holding natural ingredients and with this Airopack is able to enhance the total sustaining message on shelf for the consumer.”

This technology has also been adopted by other major companies in the recent past; including Procter & Gamble and Danish brand Nordictan.

As technology advances, lightweight packaging and aerosols with a low carbon footprint and CO2 impact are becoming more practical and are being adopted by larger numbers of companies.

Industry examples

Estee Lauder subsidiary Aveda recently brought a new dimension to packaging by introducing 100% recycled packaging for eye colouring in their ‘Essence of Nature Single Eye Color Refil’ line, launched earlier this year.

The company also adopted the tactic of selling refills of its most popular colors, to allow consumers to re-use the same packaging multiple times.

Copyright – Unless otherwise stated all contents of this web site are © 2013 – William Reed Business Media SAS – All Rights Reserved

Closed Loop Recycling Expansion

The innovative recycler, who was the first in the world to recycle both PET and
HDPE plastic bottles into food grade material for new food and drink packaging,
is implementing a major expansion which will double the supply of recycled HDPE
to the UK market, more than meeting the expected demand from the dairy industry
as it works towards higher recycled content targets.

The investment in
new infrastructure will make Closed Loop Recycling the biggest recycler of milk
bottles in the world.  It will increase capacity at the Dagenham-based plant to
55,000 tonnes per annum, creating the most advanced plastics purification
facility in the UK and diverting a further 30,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in
the process. 

“Recycled milk bottles are a massive win for the circular
economy,” explains Chris Dow, CEO of Closed Loop Recycling.  “The increased
demand for recycled content is an example of the whole industry working together
– retailers, producers, brands and industry bodies – to implement an ambitious
plan. This has created a sustainable business model with enormous potential for
the future.

“There has been a huge commitment from the companies in this
sector, including our customers, who have invested in technology and plants to
complete the HDPE recycling loop.  I am confident that our expansion will bring
the 2020 target of 50% recycled material in plastic bottles closer,” continues
Dow.

Dr Liz Goodwin, chief executive of WRAP comments: “Closed Loop
Recycling’s expansion in order to meet forecast demand for recycled content in
milk bottle packaging is the perfect example of how businesses can work together
to achieve the economic and environmental benefits of a circular economy. It’s
great to see circular economy ideas being converted into positive
action.”

Closed Loop Recycling is implementing an awareness campaign with
local authorities to increase collection rates of milk bottles. This will
support the ongoing goals of the Dairy Roadmap whereby dairy processors, farmers
and retailers are working together with government to develop a raft of
environmental improvements within the dairy industry.

Closed Loop
Recycling has been at the forefront of the UK plastic recycling industry which
has gone from almost zero to £60 million in just five years and this multi
million pound investment in new infrastructure will further enable the company
take real action to support Britain’s challenging waste stream.

As a
result of a joint agreement with the London Thames Gateway Development
Corporation (LTGDC), Closed Loop Recycling has leased an additional three acres
adjacent to its existing Dagenham site to help facilitate any future expansion,
in order to realise its ambitious growth plans and meet demand for recycled food
grade products.

Closed Loop Recycling’s Dagenham plant has been
operating since December 2008.  Its current capacity allows the production of
35,000 tonnes of mixed plastic bottles, producing 11,000 tonnes of rPET and
6,000 tonnes of rHDPE per annum. 

More info:
www.closedlooprecycling.co.uk

Cereal Lauches In a Reusable Zippered Pouch

More on Kellogg’s reusable zippered pouch containing 15% recycled material including the first food-safe, post-consumer HDPE plastic available, Ecoprime.

Click on the link to learn more
REUSABLE ZIPPERED POUCH

Envision Plastics Makes Food Logistics 2013 Top Green Providers List

Reidsville, N.C.  –June 20 , 2013  – Food Logistics, the only publication dedicated exclusively to the food and beverage supply chain, recently announced this year’s Top Green Providers list which includes Envision Plastics, the creator of EcoPrime™, the only FDA approved, food-grade recycled HDPE resin available in North America.

The Top Green Providers focuses on sustainability in the global food supply chain with profiles of companies who are exceeding industry standards in their sector. This year’s list includes food producers and manufacturers, 3PLs and transportation and logistics providers, equipment manufacturers, and others whose products and services are driving sustainability from farm to fork.

“Food producers and manufacturers have a longstanding and unique relationship to sustainability and environmental conservation considering their dependence on water resources and arable land,” noted Lara L. Sowinski, editor-in-chief for Food Logistics. “In recent years, sustainability has also become critical to other players in the global food supply chain, particularly transportation and logistics providers, equipment manufacturers, software and technology companies, and others who recognize that incorporating sustainable practices leads to more efficient, ethical, and profitable organizations.”

Envision Plastics and other companies on this year’s Top Green Providers list are profiled in the June 2013 issue of Food Logistics, as well as online at http://www.foodlogistics.com.

About Food Logistics

Food Logistics is published by Cygnus Business Media, a leading diversified business-to-business media company. The publication serves the information needs of executives involved in various aspects of the global food and beverage supply chain. Through our print and online products, we provide news, trends, and best practices that help more than 24,000+ grocery and foodservice suppliers, distributors, and retailers make better business decisions. Visit us online at www.foodlogistics.com.

 

About Envision Plastics

Envision Plastics has been a pioneer in the post consumer recycled resins (HDPE) industry for over a decade.  As leaders in the next generation of recycling processes, Envision is the creator of a proprietary process called EcoPrime™ which produces the only FDA approved, food-grade recycled HDPE resin on the market that meets exacting sustainability standards for packaging.  Envision is also home to the exclusive color sorting process called Prisma™, which is capable of recognizing 40 million shades of color saving clients time, money and resources while reducing waste. Known for their expertise in plastics recycling production and design, Envision provides consulting services to assist clients in optimizing their production while minimizing materials. With locations in California and North Carolina, distribution across the country is cost-effective and convenient for clients. For more information about Envision Plastics, visit http://www.envisionplastics.com.

Researchers develop method for recycling plastic with printed ink

Researchers at the University of Alicante have developed a new procedure that removes printed ink on plastic films used in flexible packaging getting a product free from ink and suitable for recycling.

Click here to read full article.