The South African supplier to Arla Foods, Dairy Crest, and Robert Wiseman in the UK produces around two billion HDPE milk bottles a year. This means that reaching the r-HDPE target will save about 7,000 tonnes of virgin material annually.
Under the Milk Roadmap targets set by the UK government the dairy industry is required to increase use of r-HDPE to 10 per cent by the end of 2010. In its sustainability report published late last year Dairy UK said the industry is on track to reach that target.
As one of the leading suppliers of HDPE to the dairy industry Nampak plays a vital role in plans to increase the use of recycled plastic.
The company had to invest more than £1.5m across its seven sites in the UK to make its equipment suitable for the production of r-HDPE. This investment included modifications to blowmolding equipment and the installation of new blending machines, material pipework, and silos.
Despite the higher costs implied by investment in new equipment, Nampak agreed with its customers that there would be no premium charged on bottles at up to 10 per cent r-HDPE. The company said it made that decision because of the importance of the project to the whole dairy industry and the commitments in the Milk Roadmap.
Eric Collins, managing director at Nampak, said meeting the 2010 milestone is “a real team effort” involving workers at Nampak, customers, and other stakeholders.
Collins said: “Just four years ago ‘bottle-to-bottle’ recycling was unheard of in the UK dairy industry. Now we are adding up to 10 per cent recycled content to all our bottles.”
This was decided because of the importance of the project for the dairy industry
Increasing r-HDPE content to 10 per cent is one thing but dairy companies now have to look forward to increasing the figure to 50 per cent by 2020. Under the Milk Roadmap the dairy industry has the target of increasing recycled content to 30 per cent by 2015 and 50 per cent by 2020.
Reaching these long-term goals will depend on further investment and commitment. A Nampak spokesperson said future challenges will be discussed later this month at the Wrap-sponsored Recycled HDPE Milk Bottle Review meeting.
“The meeting will be looking at the supply of recycled material and collection services and what changes might need to be made to run the recycled content through equipment,” said the spokesperson.