Process recycles PET into food-contact plastic, claims company

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling Polyethylene terephthalate

A US-based company yesterday claimed to have developed a process to
turn recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into
plastic that can be used to package foods.

The development could pave the way for processors to further emphasise their "green" credentials, by allowing them to use recycled plastics in packaging their products. Recycled plastics pose problems for reuse as food containers, as the material may contain contaminants accumulated during the process. ECO2 Plastics said initial test results demonstrate that the company's proprietary cleaning process can produce PET plastic flake that is suitably pure for use in the manufacturing of food-contact containers. The tests were performed by the National Food Laboratory. Rod Rougelot, ECO2's chief executive officer said based on the tests the company's lawyers have concluded that the process meets the food-contact standards of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "Not only are we recycling PET bottles in an environmentally friendly way, but we are delivering the highest possible quality through the process as well,"​ he stated. The preliminary calculations demonstrated that ECO2's recycling process is capable of producing PET resin that canl be used in contact with all food types. The resin could be used under the FDA's standards "C" through "H", covering foods and drinks hot filled or pasteurized above 150 degrees F, to ready-prepared foods intended to be reheated in the container, ECO2 claimed. The company is conducting further tests and is expecting to file a formal application with the FDA in the first quarter of 2008, Rougelot stated. The company's patented recycling process was developed through a research partnership with Honeywell FM&T and the US Department of Energy. "Unlike other recyclers, ECO2's process eliminates the use of water , respects and preserves the environment, while delivering a high quality recycled plastic flake with comparably lower operating costs,"​ the company claimed. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company operates a recycling plant in Riverbank, California, with another plant currently under construction. Earlier this year reported that informal discussions are taking place on harmonised EU rules governing plastic materials and articles in contact with food. Harmonising the rules would make it easier for processors to trade under the same requirements across the EU, where a hodgepodge of regulations exist on the use of recycled plastic by the food sector. The proposed regulation would set the conditions under which recycled plastics can be used as a source of manufacturing food contact plastics. It would also harmonise rules for manufacture and for the authorisation of the recycling process.

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