Ineos Olefins and Polymers Europe has announced that it has joined NextLoopp, a consortium-based initiative aimed at creating food-grade recycled polypropylene from post-consumer packaging waste. The company will contribute its expertise to a two-year project involving the building of a demonstration plant in the UK to produce 10,000 tonnes per year of food-grade recycled polypropylene.
Although a commonly used packaging material for food across the globe, unlike, for example PET bottles, post-consumer PP packaging is not widely recycled in conventional mechanical recycling infrastructure.
The goal of the current project is to validate the process developed to manufacture food-grade recycled polypropylene and its commercial viability, in order to receive acceptance from the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) and European equivalent (EFSA).
When it comes to food grade recycled PP, a key issue is the need to, prior to processing, accurately separate the different packaging types, as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) requires the infeed material to have previously been used with food.
However, mechanical recyclers have, up until now, not been able to differentiate between PP bottles that once contained chemical products from those containing food.
As a consequence, current food-grade recycled PP has been limited to advanced recycling technology processes.·
“The absence of food-grade recycled polypropylene means that all PP food packaging is currently made from virgin plastics. This is a large, global problem and it is something that INEOS and its partners are determined to change,” said Graham MacLennan, Polymer Business Manager Ineos O&P UK.
From its manufacturing base in Grangemouth, Scotland, Ineos will help tailor food-grade recycled polypropylene to the precise specification of converters by blending it with virgin polypropylene and additives to modify its mechanical and processing properties.
Professor Edward Kosior, founder and CEO of Nextek Ltd and Nextloopp welcomes the participation of Ineos in helping recycle PP food packaging.
“Nextloopp looks forward to achieving the goal of creating a long term solution for PP packaging, enabling all stakeholders to confidently participate in recycling and contributing to a better outcome for all.”