It is interesting times for those involved with PET recycling, as the global market is expected to reach almost $11 billion by 2025, reports Grand View Research in the US. This trend is largely a result of changing end-user perception towards sustainable sourcing of bottling materials and the ban of landfills in European states.

The average yield coming from PET recyclers, however, has dropped from 73 to 68 per cent since 2011, says Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE). This has led to substantial and additional costs for the European industry.

Beverage giant Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched a sustainable packaging strategy to double its rPET content by 2020 in the UK. This would involve the use of 50 per cent rPET in its bottles and is based largely on a supply arrangement with a recycling plant in Lincolnshire run by Clean Tech.

CCEP’s move was welcomed by the British Plastics Federation (BPF), which added that the brand’s trial of a recovery and reward scheme to motivate consumers to recycle was important to improving on-the-go recycling.

Still in the UK, Vanden Recycling opened a processing facility in Cambridgeshire, which features shredding, granulation and baling operations and a front-end material inspection area. The three granulation lines have a combined throughput of up to 30 tonnes of plastics a day, handling HDPE, LDPE, PET, PP, PS and PVC.

Trade association PlasticsEurope has been busy launching an initiative to promote the recycling of polystyrene in a bid to support the European Union’s circular economy plan. The group aims to engage the value chain in the development of promising recycling technologies, with the ultimate target being high-quality material for food-contact applications.

In a similar area, Total has completed an industrial scale test run, following a series of pilot plant trials, demonstrating the feasibility of incorporating 20 per cent post-consumer recycled PS within virgin PS. The company said that PS is one of the easiest polymers to recycle.

A project called CLIPP+ has proved successful for flexible packaging manufacturer Skymark, which involves a technology that enables printed films to be recycled by removing contaminants and odours that often hinder the downstream process. The company worked with EU partners to develop the process and can now create recycled polyolefin films to be used in non-food packaging applications.

From non-food to food applications, the University of Wageningen in The Netherlands has embarked on a research project aiming to increase the use of bio-based plastics in injection-moulded food packaging. The main challenge is to produce thin-walled transparent food packaging using bio-based materials, which are usually too viscous.

The past month delivered a glut of acquisitions, along with the obligatory monthly update of the Dow Chemical and DuPont merger. The latter saw the anti-trust division of the US Department of Justice agree to the merger, meaning that no further approvals are required in the US. The deal remains on target for this month.

Elsewhere in North America, Revere Packaging acquired Plastic Package in response to forecast food packaging demand growth. The combined business will have its headquarters in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Polymer materials firm PolyOne has agreed to sell its Designed Structures and Solutions (DSS) unit, which includes sheet and packaging assets, to Arsenal Capital Partners for $115m, while TricorBraun is strengthening its presence in Canada with the purchase of Salbro Bottle.

Austria has been a focal point for deals with Constantia Flexibles deciding to sell its Labels division to Multi-Color Corporation for $1.3 billion, whilst receiving Multi-Color stock and becoming the largest shareholder in the company.

Austrian converter Alpla completed its biggest-ever acquisition in the form of South Africa’s Boxmore Packaging. Boxmore is a producer of PET preforms, bottles and closures and distributes to more than 20 countries in Africa. In a busy month for Alpla, the company also bought Italian homecare packaging firm Propack.

Italy’s Guala Closures Group is buying Axiom Propack, a major producer of safety closures for spirits in India. Axiom started in 2016 and produced sales of more than $6.8m in its first year.

And finally…

The UK’s Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has reported that its 2017 Plastic Challenge was the most successful since the commitment started three years ago.

More than 5,000 people registered to give up everything from single-use food packaging, water bottles, toothpaste and shower gels for the month of June.

MCS hopes that the 2018 Plastic Challenge will get nearer to 10,000 people taking part. If they are all planning to avoid toothpaste and shower gel for an entire month then it might be worth avoiding them too.

Steven Pacitti