With the adoption of its new circular economy strategy last autumn, Greiner Packaging has been assessing a number of aspects relating to the further development of sustainable material solutions for its customers. Next to cutting CO2 emissions and material savings, the company has also been working to increase the recyclability of its packaging and the use of more recycled materials, such as r-PET, r-PP and r-PS.
Already, the company used r-PET and r-PP to produce its plastic packaging, although mainly as a specific solution for a customer. As specialists in packaging for the food and non-food sectors, the company serves many customers in the dairy packaging industry, where PP and PS are by far the most commonly used materials. Recycled PP and PS, however, for the most part are not approved for food contact applications and often have only limited availability.
For example, mechanically recycled PP may not be used in food packaging applications, although Greiner Packaging is currently involved in a project to obtain food-contact approval for mechanically recycled r-PP. Chemically recycled PP is suitable for food contact, but not readily available, as large-scale PP recycling streams are lacking.
Recycled polystyrene (r-PS), too, is in very short supply and here, too, recycling streams must first be established. However, earlier tests have already shown that the high purity content of PS makes it highly suitable for mechanical recycling, and Greiner Packaging has already been able to produce yogurt containers made from 100% r-PS material. The process for obtaining certification of r-PS for use in yogurt containers is already underway in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, however, Greiner has been taking a closer look at rPET - a readily available material through existing bottle recycling streams, but to date considered unsuitable for dairy packaging, where high temperature sterilisation (HTS), during which temperatures of up to 120oC are reached, is required. Yet, on the other hand, rPET is a food-approved recycled material. Greiner Packaging is currently engaged in tests for the dairy industry to establish whether PET is able to tolerate temperatures of up to 120oC. The main focus will be on the current sterilisation process and whether this is compatible with H2O2. The aim is to ensure that dairies will not be forced to make changes to the filling process when using recycled r-PET.
With these efforts on the part company's part to develop solutions that make it possible to use r-PET, r-PP and r-PS in the food industry, Greiner Packaging aims to significantly increase its use of recycled materials in the manufacture of its plastic products in future.