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Rigid Plastics

Food-Grade Recycled Polypropylene Achieves Milestone

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NextLooPP global initiative of 43 companies reaches a pivotal point in closing the loop on food-grade polypropylene recycling.

Trials at Germany’s TOMRA in September 2021 where 99.9% sorting purity using Nextek’s invisible PolyPRISM fluorescent markers was achieved, proved successful (see Major Food-Grade Plastic Recycling Pilot Results Revealed, published November 2021).

Now NextLooPP is dispatching PPristinerecycled polypropylene (PP) prototype resins. These materials from post-consumer food packaging were sent to 43 participants for further trials. Beginning soon, the production trials of food-grade compliant rPP will make more than 60 different products from NextLooPP’s four grades of PPristine food compliant and "INRT grade" resins.

Luke Burgess is director of business development at Viridor, the UK’s largest recycling operator. The company's  most recent recycling facility at Avonmouth came on stream in 2021. He says “this milestone confirms the project is poised to address the key challenges to recycling this valuable polymer. It also opens important commercial opportunities for the circular economy.”

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Robinson Packaging’s Managing Director UK, Steve Haley concurs, saying that “NextLooPP has reached an exciting time in trialing FgrPP. It should revolutionize the industry reducing the amount of virgin polymer needed in circulation for packaging and contribute to a sustainable future. With demand for post-consumer recycled material increasing, it’s vital to have a high-quality food-grade solution for customers while closing the loop in packaging. Through this valued partnership, all participants continue to learn from each other's expertise to find the perfect cost-effective solution that will have a huge impact on future developments within the industry."

In Malaysia, Heng Hiap’s CEO, Kian Seah, believes that food-grade demand will grow suddenly driven by public and regulatory pressure as the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, Heng Hiap are excited to collaborate with different stakeholders within NEXTLOOPP to enable this breakthrough together.

Pro-Pac Packaging Group is exploring innovative, sustainable change in rigid PP packaging driven by consumers, retailers and their customers who all want to make an impact, according to Tim Strachan, category manager–food.

“NextLooPP has provided tremendous knowledge, support and the technology to reach this latest milestone, bringing them even closer to answering the complexities of adding food-grade recycled PP material into food-grade PP products,” Strachan explains.

As NextLooPP accelerates through the barriers of sorting and decontamination to close the loop on food-grade rPP, it is now fine-tuning the required data to compile the dossier for its application to European and US food compliance regulatory groups, EFSA and FDA respectively.

Nextek’s Edward Kosior, the driving force behind NextLooPP, explains that the real breakthrough into a sustainable circular economy has been the sorting into food packaging combined with the cleaning and decontamination of polypropylene packaging to food safety standards. This must meet the standards compliant with the food safety authorities using Challenge Tests for validation, which is the basis for the PPristine rPP resins.

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