A global multi-participant project has been launched to address polypropylene (PP) in the plastics recycling stream.
Data suggests that PP accounts for around 20% of the world’s plastic, mostly used in pots, tubs, trays and films for food packaging.
It is also prevalent in non-food household and personal care products, which complicates recycling the 700,000 tonnes/ annum used in the UK alone.
PP packaging usually either goes to waste-to-energy, landfill or being down- cycled into low-performance applications.
Additionally, the absence of food-grade recycled PP (FGrPP) means that all PP food packaging is currently made from virgin plastics.
These include new decontamination stages to ensure compliance with food-grade standards in the EU and the USA.
Major organizations including brand-owners, suppliers, universities, and industry associations, through to end-users in the PP supply chain, have joined NEXTLOOPP to produce a ‘world-first quality FGrPP that will be available in the UK by 2022.
So far 29 organisations across the PP supply chain have joined NEXTLOOPP.
Edward Kosior, chief executive of Nextek, said creating a circular economy for food-grade PP packaging waste fills the gap in the packaging recycling sector and helps reach net-zero carbon targets.
“It will allow brand owners to meet their recycling targets and significantly reduce the use of virgin plastics from petrochemicals. It will also greatly reduce CO2 emissions and divert waste from landfill and waste-to-energy.”
WRAP has confirmed that The UK Plastics Pact is supporting the NEXTLOOPP project. Acting director insights and innovation, Claire Shrewsbury, said: “Achieving this will enable UK Plastics Pact members to reach the target of an average of 30% recycled content across all packaging by 2025. WRAP believes that NEXTLOOPP offers a potential solution to this and we will work closely with the other stakeholders to develop the project further.”
Viridor’s director of business development (polymers), Luke Burgess, said: “Viridor believes that extending its polymers expertise and recycling experience to cross-sector collaboration and innovation is key to ensuring more waste is valued as a resource and returns to the circular economy where it belongs. Reducing our reliance on virgin plastic not only empowers greater circularity, but the continued use of recycled material also offers significant energy savings, contributing to considerable wider environmental benefits for the UK.”
Lubna Edwards, group sustainability and marketing director at Robinson Packaging, added: “Demand for this high-value recycled material will continue to rise as we shift away from using virgin material. Much of our UK business depends upon PP and this ground-breaking project gives us the opportunity to tap into cutting-edge technology, learn from industry partners and trial the material for sustainable use in our packaging.”
Adam Elman, group sustainability director at Klockner Pentaplast, said: “Capturing the value of plastics by keeping them within the economy and out of our natural environment is key to meeting the Plastics Pact targets and very much part of our business strategy. Swapping the traditional ‘take-make-waste linear model for a circular system is also one of the many important steps towards significantly reducing our carbon emissions. We are proud to be working in collaboration with NEXTLOOPP on this important project.”