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July 10, 2008

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Greening of an industry: PCR sees second life in food packaging

The use of post-consumer plastic bottles to process new consumer food packaging has become a reality in London with the opening of Closed Loop Recycling, which has annual capacity of 35,000 tonnes of recovered plastic bottles, including those for milk and carbonated soft drinks. Closed Loop said its initial customers will include brand owner Coca-Cola Enterprises, retailer Marks & Spencer, and processors Nampak Plastics Europe and Solo Cup.

The operation’s financial backing comes from the private-equity fund, Foresight Group, with seed funding from Australia’s Closed Loop Environmental Solutions and grants from the government-backed WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Program) and the London Development Agency. The company has also secured banking facilities from Allied Irish Bank.

In a press release, Hubert Patricot, managing director Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd., said the operation will help his company meet its goal of using an average of 25% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) content across Coke’s European operations by the end of 2010. Nampak plans to source up to 6000 tonnes of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) annually from Closed Loop so that it can meet its goal of supplying new bottles with up to 10% recycled content during this year and next.

The plant uses patented technology, originally developed by South Carolina-based United Resource Recovery Corp., to sort, granulate and clean recycled plastic bottles for the production of flake materials that have been used in food applications in the U.S. and Europe. Closed Loop Recycling has the exclusive U.K. license for the URRC process, joining six plants globally, including sites in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the U.S., and Mexico. Recycling PET and HDPE, the operation uses Erema’s Vacurema process to extrude pellets from post-consumer PET that can then be used in food-contact applications.—[email protected]

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