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Rigid Plastics

Food-Safe rPET Packaging Closes the Loop in Ireland

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Waddington Europe and Shabra Plastics are working together to transform post-consumer plastic into new thermoformed food packaging.

Thermoformer Waddington Europe and Shabra Plastics, Ireland’s leading recycler and reprocessor of post-consumer waste, are working together to advance Ireland’s circular economy.

Through the agreement, Shabra supplies Waddington Europe with food-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), which the thermoformer makes into food packaging at its Arklow, Ireland, production site and then sells to Irish food packers. Waddington Europe, a division of Novolex, manufactures paper and plastic packaging and foodservice products.

In addition to securing a long-term source of rPET for Waddington Europe, the deal enables the thermoformer to expand its line of Eco Blend products made with post-consumer recycled content sourced domestically in Ireland back into the Irish market. Eco Blend packaging is compatible with a variety of foods, including meat, fish, baked goods, prepared food, soft fruits, and salads.

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“Our customers are beginning to realize that if they develop these circular supply chains, they can reduce manufacturing costs and provide consumers with more sustainable products,” said Eduardo Gomes, managing director of Waddington Europe, in a prepared statement. “Additionally, governments are noticing how local recycling and closed-loop economies generate revenue and drive local job creation.”

Shabra, which uses post-consumer bottles, pots, tubs, and trays to manufacture food-grade rPET, has recently invested heavily in new sorting lines and a reprocessing facility that provides intensively washed rPET flake. Shabra’s wash plant processes 1.4 tons of rPET per hour.

“We are very much committed to sustainability and a circular economy and all the benefits that go with them,” said Rita Shah, CEO of Shabra. “By keeping Irish plastic packaging waste in an Irish recycling system, we are confident that we can offer forward-thinking customers like Waddington Europe long-term savings, less reliance on foreign external suppliers, a positive public perception, and increased customer loyalty.”

Shah added, “On a macro level, the localized economic model can increase jobs and innovation, the security of raw material supply and consumer savings, as well as reduce damaging pressures on the environment.”

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