Nampak Plastics is planning to trial 30 per cent recycled content bottles after a university study found that 50 per cent recycled content was a reasonable target for the packaging specialist.
Nampak has already achieved its 10 per cent recycled content goal on all its HDPE milk bottles after investing £1.5m into the project. The company revealed to DairyReporter.com that a further 15 per cent increase will be announced imminently.
The study, run by Bradford University for Nampak, concluded that the recyclate grades of 10 and 50 per cent had very similar properties to virgin materials, including flow behaviour, quality and molecular and chemical structure.
These results suggest that Nampak’s target for the inclusion of 50 per cent recycled high density polyethylene (rHDPE) into its bottles by 2020 is possible.
Following the study, Nampak is looking to conduct its own trials to test recycled blow-moulded bottles.
James Crick, business development director at Nampak, told DairyReporter.com: "This is an internal trial only with no plans to share samples with customers at this stage. The trial will take place during October 2010 and follows on from the trials run by Bradford University. Nampak's trial will replicate the Bradford University laboratory work in a factory environment. In due course we will of course be sharing our findings with customers."
The Bradford University study, carried out by the Centre for Advanced Materials Engineering, assessed variable levels of recycled content to see how the addition of variable levels of rHDPE might affect both the processability and functionality of the material. The study also quantified how much rHDPE can practically be added to a bottle.
Post consumer food grade HDPE pellets were used to assess the properties of blends of virgin HDPE by 10 per cent and 50 per cent rHDPE. Researchers also quantified the effects on material properties of five thermal cycles through an extruder.
Nampak’s 50 per cent rHDPE target is part of the UK government’s Milk Road Map, an action plan run by Defra to help the dairy sector to address its environmental impact.
The company produces approximately 2bn milk bottles every year. Around 7,000 tonnes of virgin material are saved annually as a result of the 10 per cent achievement.
Nampak Plastics Europe currently operates from eight sites across the UK.