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Why and how are plastic packaging and films recycled?
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Throughout the chain:
Raw material producers ► Packaging manufacturers ► Packaging users ► Recyclers
This is the process that the packaging industry has followed with the entire chain.
Used and collected packaging* is processed to to make a new, secondary raw material. This is called regeneration. At this stage, the material is prepared to precise technical specifications to make new products.
In some cases, recycling may take place in a loop to make packaging or bring new products to life in different applications.
* Homogenous sources of plastics provide for environmentally and economically satisfactory recycling.
Plastic packaging and film recycling is industrial reality, for example:
50% of plastic bottles are sorted and recycled
Quick but sound progress
Tonnage of recycled plastic packaging from the French household packaging recovery stream
|Metric tons of recycled household plastic packaging|
Packaging's second life
Marketed packaging type
• Milk and fruit juice bottles
• New bottles
• EPS packaging: trays, crates, cushioning
Material: EPS (expanded polystyrene)
• New packaging
• Bottles: mineral and spring water, soft drinks, beer, water, cider, vinegar
Material: PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
• Padding fibre
|Source : Valorplast|
|Source : Valorplast|
The example of the water bottle
In household plastic packaging, the water bottle is a good example of the recycling process. Made from PET, it is perfectly recyclable and recycled.
Results are very encouraging with 1 bottle in 2 recycled in France in 2008. This score could be increased by leading consumers to sort and by developing out-of-home collection.
Companies in the bottled water sector are members of Eco-Emballages, to which they contributed €51 million in 2006, i.e. 21% of the food sector's contributions.
Extensive eco-design work has been carried out in the past 20 years as the weight of the mineral water bottle has been cut by more than one-third to 33g today without calling into question its essential quality: guaranteeing the safety and original quality of bottled water through to the consumer's table.
To find out more about mineral water: www.eaumineralenaturelle.fr
Plastic recycling definitions
Material recycling (mechanical): Physical process to regenerate used packaging as a secondary raw material, i.e. used to make new products.
Raw material recycling (chemical): Physical-chemical processes that break plastics down into several primary components that can be used to make plastics or other products.
Through the rollout of new industrial processes, recycled raw material is being increasingly used in food packaging.
Regulatory frameworks used to vary from one European Union country to another, regulation EC/282/2008/CE of March 27th, 2008 changed that situation.
This regulation was published following framework [EC/1935/2004] and the GMP (good manufacturing practices) [EC/2003/2006]regulations. Harmonised rules were defined for authorising recycling processes for plastics in contact with food. Such plastics must also comply with the requirements of the "plastics directive" [EC/2002/72 and its amendments], which are basic prerequisites in all cases.
To provide for the gradual setup of these new provisions, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued guidelines specifying the content of petition applications (authorisation requests for planned industrial processes).
An "initial authorisation" phase enables existing processes to be included in the new system.
Authorised processes must be managed under quality assurance and audited.
Why was recycling developed and why should its development continue?
Recycling is a major goal for our industry, which has developed the recycling of plastic packaging and films for 15 years.
This action was carried out both to achieve regulatory recycling goals and to make a decisive contribution to recycling for the following reasons:
- Contributing to national independence from oil.
- Saving resources.
- Developing a regionally based, job-creating industry. The recycling industry is close to waste resources.
- Developing an economically viable industry with technologies that drive improvement in sorting and recycling quality, making it possible to include recycled materials in more and more finished products, while complying with specifications and guaranteeing product quality.
|The recycling industry testifies|