A recent investment of over £3,700,000 (€4.333.719) in a new PET decontamination and extrusion line will enable the use of more recycled materials in the pot and tub range produced by Greiner Packaging UK & Ireland.
After undergoing cleaning and washing, recycled PET flakes still require further decontamination in order to be suitable for food-contact applications. Greiner Packaging has installed, at its factory in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, a new world-class decontamination unit which enables the removal of impurities, creating a food-safe material. This is integrated with a greater material feed system which is directly linked to a new extrusion line, allowing complete flexibility to use recycled input materials, virgin materials or a combination of both, according to customer requirements.
“Investing in these two new machines is the latest step in our continued commitment to innovate, increase capacity and reduce our carbon footprint,” says Greiner Packaging UK & Ireland CEO Philip Woolsey. “The new integrated line enables ‘tray-to-tray recycling’ – meaning that we can process material from a wider variety of sources and utilise a lighter grade of recyclate.”
It also makes it possible, he said, to create recycled PET (r-PET) sheet on-site, and re-use excess material, rather than buying-in PET sheet and selling off any waste.
It marks quite a change: until now, polypropylene (PP) in Dungannon was the sole material extruded at Dugannon.
“But now we can extrude r-PET and will soon also be trialling the extrusion of recycled polypropylene (r-PP),” said Woolsey. Pilot quantities of r-PP for product trials are already available.
Greiner Packaging UK & Ireland is one of the founding members of the UK Plastics Pact, whose roadmap shows that the volume of pots, tubs and trays made from r-PET will decline, while chemically recycled polypropylene will increase.
“While a lot of talk in the industry is currently only about r-PET, we are already in a position to favour either r-PET or r-PP, and can produce the majority of our products using either material. Across Europe, we are already making products with r-PP, and this is set to increase and will be introduced to the UK in 2021, “ Woolsey noted.
He added that, recycling aside, the Dungannon plant was at the same time working steadily to become carbon-neutral by 2025, as part of the ‘constant focus on investing in improving our environmental sustainability performance and pursuing our goal to achieve a circular economy.’
In 2010, the company introduced the use of wind power to serve the water cooling needs at the Dungannon factory. The next step involved the elimination of excess heat from the cooling system. This led to the establishment of Project SCool, which enables the factory to deliver the heating requirements for Integrated College across the road.
“From April 2019, we began the transition to meeting energy requirements solely from renewable sources, as of April 2021 we will have reached this milestone. In addition, with the introduction of LED lighting site-wide, we have reduced our energy requirement by over 500,000 kWh per annum,” said Woolsey