A new food-grade PET that uses up to 25 per cent chemically recycled PET as feedstock has been launched by Equipolymers, which the company says is part of an initiative to meet the guidelines of the European Plastics Strategy.

The subsidiary of Equate Petrochemical Company, which has a production facility in Germany and management office in UAE, calls Viridis 25 a breakthrough technology as it contains the highest ratio of chemically recycled PET (from post-consumer flakes) so far. Viridis 25 will require up to three per cent of total rPET available in Europe.

Ramesh Ramachndran, chief executive of Equate Petrochemical Company

Viridis 25 was presented on 9 October in Vienna during a conference and Dr Ramesh Ramachndran, chief executive of Equate, saying that Equate’s mission is to be a “leader for sustainable development and growth worldwide”.

The roots of the project go back to 2009 when Equate launched Viridis 10, a PET grade containing up to 10 per cent rPET. In 2016 the company started collaborating with Coca-Cola on Viridis 25.

Bruce Eliott,CEPG managing director of Plastics Packaging at Coca-Cola, said:“In response to the European Plastics Strategy, Viridis 25 contributes to Coca-Cola‘s global strategy of a ‘World Without Waste’ by increasing the amount of recycled material in its PET bottles.”

Bruce Eliott, CEPG managing director of Plastics Packaging at Coca-Cola

Viridis will be produced on a commercial scale from the fourth quarter 2019, manufactured initially in Schkopau, Germany, where Equate is improving the plant capability to replace fossil feedstock with rPET in its plan. At maturity, the consumption of rPET for Viridis 25 will exceed 30,000 tonnes a year.

The process has been validated and is now being transferred onto an industrial scale. By the end of 2019 all Viridis 10 production will be replaced by Viridis 25. Viridis 25 complies with the relevant European regulations for food contact plastics and thus can be used in the beverage bottle production as well as in thermoforming applications.

Karl-H.-Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope

Karl-H. Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope said that the Viridis 25 project is a step in the right direction.

“Increasing chemical recycling is pivotal for our sector. Our 2030 Voluntary Commitment stresses the need for innovative and economical chemical recycling technologies,” he said.

Based on 2016 rPET collection data, the total post-consumer PET collection in EU is two million tonnes a year. rPET flakes reach 1.3 million tonnes of this quantity.

Current Equipolymers production capacity of PET is about 350,000 tonnes a year (with two lines), which represents about 10 per cent of total PET capacity in Europe.