Food Grade Recycled Polypropylene (rPP)
This ground breaking project has shown that a food grade recycled PP resin derived from post-consumer sources can be achieved using a patented process so the material can be used at 100% levels in contact with food.
Nextek was commissioned by WRAP to work in partnership with the UK packaging supply chain, retailers, brand owners and the recycling industry to develop a viable process to recycle household Polypropylene (PP) packaging waste into recycled PP (rPP) approved for use in the manufacture of food packaging.
Focus was on developing a recycling process that could increase the decontamination performance to the standards required by EU regulations for food contact and that could cope with a wide range of PP packaging materials encountered in the post-consumer PP packaging stream.
Recycling a wide range of mixed rigid post-consumer PP packaging to food contact quality is more complex than the recycling of HDPE and PET bottles. Nextek approached this challenge by identifying and selecting a process that provided a high level of melt-phase decontamination in an extruder with a specially designed vacuum section that provided a large surface area for removal of volatile contaminants, followed by treatment in a heated high-vacuum degassing reactor.
This project has shown that the development of full scale processes that that can expand the recycling of plastic packaging to include rigid PP packaging along with HDPE and PET packaging in a closed loop system. Retailers and brand owners have supported the development of this technology because it has direct environmental benefits such as lower carbon footprint packaging, resource efficiency and diversion of packaging waste from landfill.
Further investigations by Nextek are focusing on improved automated sorting and separation of PP food packs from packs previously in contact with non-food substances. Nextek is now running large scale rPP trials and working with a number of packaging manufacturers to trial the rPP resins into a variety of moulded and thermoformed pots, tubs and trays.
Food Grade Recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Closing the loop by recycling milk bottles back into milk bottles has provided recyclers with additional commercial benefits, brand owners with sustainable packaging and consumers with a improved environmental outcomes.
Technology for closed loop recycling of post-consumer HDPE milk bottles back into new milk bottles has recently been developed by Nextek as part of a WRAP funded project in 2005 and has now been commercialized in the UK. This ‘super cleaning’ process produces pelletized rHDPE with approvals for food contact applications so it can be used to make new milk bottles displacing virgin HDPE and having significant environmental benefits. The technology uses a process and equipment similar to what has previously been used for food grade rPET and is well suited to operating in a current food grade rPET plant as a second stream of material.
The UK commenced using rHDPE at 10% addition rates and has since moved to 15% in an industry wide initiative. Targeting 30% addition rates by 2015 the recovery level and closed loop recycling of milk bottle has continued to grow in the UK to meet the increased demand of this now valuable commodity. Nextek continues to develop and expand the development of this new technology in many other countries providing new opportunities and improved sustainability outcomes for business and the community.
Nextek has also recently competed work on Australia’s first food grade rHDPE plant in Sydney Australia. This plant was designed by Nextek to produce high quality food grade rHDPE and food grade rPET to optimise the value of the infeed material.
Working with industry partners to Nextek developed an alternative colour system that maintains the integrity of black packaging but can still be identified and separated potentially saving 30,000 tonnes of packaging from landfill.
This ground breaking research and development project to facilitate the development of technical solutions for the recovery and recycling of rigid black plastic packaging from a mixed plastic waste stream and to deliver environmental benefits over existing waste management options was conducted by Nextek Ltd and commissioned by WRAP.
Common black pigments cannot be sorted by systems being used in most Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs), and Plastics Recovery Facilities (PRFs). Novel alternative colourant techniques would allow sorting of black packaging in existing mixed plastics sorting facilities which was a key objective. A small number of colourants were selected in order to evaluate these key principles, which will be equally applicable to all suppliers.
The results show the economic benefits arising from the recycling of up to an estimated 60,000 tpa of black plastic that could include electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), automotive and building/construction industries. A range of detectable black colourants are now available that allow the automatic detection and recovery of these materials to be reused as substitutes for virgin plastics avoiding landfill.
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET)
Nextek have been instrumental in improving the technical performance of a number of PET recycling operations within Europe, USA, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.
The key issues often found in PET are PVC contamination, black specks, discolouration, metals, coloured PET and other plastics.
There are many technical and composition aspects that contribute to the production of high quality food grade PET flake and pellet. Nextek have many years of experience in the design and operation of PET recycling operations and have the knowledge and skills to quickly pinpoint the ways of improving the existing processes and overcoming the root cause of deterioration in product quality.
Nextek can assist in in-plant trouble shooting, technical and economic feasibility studies and the specification of up-to date technologies and equipment that can significantly improve the key quality parameters of PET flake and pellet to ensure that they meet customer expectations and also the complex regulatory requirements of USFDA and EFSA.
Nextek have the skills and experience to audit existing recycling operations for brand owners and retailers to ensure compliance with supply specifications and food contact requirements in the country of operation.
NextCupCycle a subsidiary company to Nextek Ltd which focuses on recycling complex waste streams such as plastic paper laminates.
NextCupCycle manufactures everyday products from complex waste streams such as paper plastic laminates. NextCupCycle has been developed after years of research on paper plastic composites with specifically designed resins and formulations to meet a variety of property requirements.
The launch material for NextCupCycle resin is based on coffee cups that do not have an end of life option. Millions of takeaway paper coffee cups are sent to landfill because until now an end of life solution has not been possible.
Companies NextCupCycle work with to produce the full circular solution:
– Ashortwalk can supply a range of product solutions for your company.
– Simply Cups can collect your waste stream starting the circular approach.
A recent survey asked consumers about coffee cup recycling. 61% of consumers said they look to recycle their cup but it is not easy in the current environment. 88% of consumers said recycling should be consumer friendly. This is where NextCupCycle and their team provide a solution. Just 43% of consumers could answer if coffee cups are recycled. 100% of the public loved to see the products that NextCupCycle resin produced and would love to see more of this.
Please contact us regarding your waste enquiries and recycle your coffee cups.