rPET bottles and jars
rPET by Frapak and FlexPET
In September 2014 a new factory was opened by Frapak and FlexPET with a production system which enables different materials to be automatically fed into its machines(in order to determine 50% or 100% of rPET)
Trial bottles have been made in the new factory on a “worst case” scenario basis i.e. heavy bottle resulting in high migration with 100% rPET. The trial bottles have been send to Intertek to study the migration of dangerous substances – with the result that the migration complies to the new 10/2011 legislation. The minimum order quantity (MOQ) for rPET is 100K.
What is rPET?
rPET is recycled PET, basically PET made from scrap. In 2014 over 57% of all PET bottles have already been recycled in some way or other. Out of this 57%, more than 20% is used for bottle-to-bottle recycling. The rPET bottles are of a slightly different colour than the usual PET bottles.
The recycling process starts at the sorting centres which accept used bottles from the different collection systems and sort these into bales of bottles which are delivered to the recyclers. These bales are sorted by material in a sorting centre or in a pre-stage of the process of the recycler. Various companies have developed mechanical and chemical processes in order to recycle high quality post-consumer material (PCR) into rPET pellets or flakes.
The Recycling Process of a rPET bottle
1. Collection; the process starts with the collection of PET bottles in bales.
2. Debaling; the packed bales with compressed bottles these are then broken into loose bottles.
3. Sorting; the sorting of bottles can be done by hand or by using an auto sorting.
4. Shredder; PET bottles sorted by colour are shredded into large flakes.
5. 1st Dry/wet cleaning process; the flakes are cleaned in water/steam.
6. Grinding; the larger flakes are grinded into smaller flakes.
7. Paper/plastic/metal separator; separation is made in a swim tank where the various material are separated by their different densities.
8. Hot Flake washer; glue and other contaminants are removed.
9. Dryer; after the different washing stages the flakes are thoroughly dried.
10. Metal detector.
11. Flake sorter; the sorting of the flake is done by optical systems, sorting on different colours.
The tests and trails of the PET recycling process
The EFSA – European Food Safety Authority – is the controlling body which regulates the food safety for the European Union. The EFSA has issued positive evaluations and positive scientific opinions for some PET recycling processes and companies. Working for the food and cosmetics industry it is a must that you select a recycler who is EFSA approved and produces rPET grade products which may be used up to 100% for foodstuff.
The problems and risks of rPET
Chemical contamination:the risk of chemical contamination is controlled at the processor site and analysis is outsourced to laboratories like Intertek who can do spectrographic analysis of the amounts of Acetaldehyde, Methyl-dioxolane, Ethylene-glycol and Limonene.
Mechanical defects: Because of the lower IV it is possible for the drop impact resistance and vertical top load to be affected. Cosmetic impurities: the cosmetic impurities can be detected during the trials of the different rPET materials when both the preforms and the bottles are inspected for clarity and black spots.
Post-Consumer Regrind (PCR) vs. Post Industrial Regrind (PIR)
The recyclers/processors normally get their material out of the waste stream where used bottles are selected and sorted. This is what we call Post Consumer Regrind. Another possibility is that Industrial Waste is input at the recycler.
The Industrial Waste is comprised of PET products (bottles) which have been rejected during the production process and which have never been delivered or filled – e.g. bottles from the start-up of the machine. This Post Industrial Regrind (PIR) is the cleanest possible waste as it has never been used/filled. The bottles made out of PIR are clearer than those made out of PCR. Availability of PIR rPET is limited.