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Flight Plastics opens New Zealand’s first rPET packaging facility

Looks like New Zealand is getting into the rPET packaging arena. Flight Plastics opened its new plastic packaging plant, which is the first plastic packaging plant in New Zealand to manufacture food grade PET packaging from recycled PET flake. The business, which was established in Wellington more than a hundred years ago, has been producing food grade rPET plastic in the UK for five years and is now introducing that technology to NZ at its recently redeveloped site in Lower Hutt.

"Research shows that 87 percent of New Zealanders want their packaging to be recyclable and to contain where possible recycled materials. That's been our experience in the UK too where the majority of what we produce at our plant in Hampshire, England now uses recycled PET flakes," said Derek Lander, director of Flight Plastics. 

The new plant aims to support New Zealand's domestic and export economy by enabling food producers to buy, for the first time, packaging made locally from imported recycled PET flakes.

"Being able to manufacture rPET plastic products right here at the exact size and volume required means we can respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demands," Lander said. "The logical next step to be considered is expanding the plant further to produce the rPET flakes from PET drinks containers and food packaging collected at curbside here in New Zealand. We are currently looking at the economics of installing a wash plant to do this." 

New Zealanders currently consume around 17,000 tons of PET plastics each year with much of it used to make food and beverage packaging, according to the news release. 

"This investment by Flight shows real foresight and gives New Zealand retailers a real choice in the packaging they choose to use. It's long awaited, very exciting, and the first step towards the holy grail of closed loop recycling in New Zealand," said Mike Sammons, sustainability manager for Foodstuffs NZ. 

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