MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nextek’s Nextloopp project has arrived at a decisive point in its progress towards closing the loop on post-consumer food-grade recycled polypropylene, or FgrPP said Sustainableplastics.
Following the successful trials at Tomra in September 2021, the 43-strong multi-participant global project is now moving forward with production trials of food-grade compliant rPP. During the September trials, 99.9% sorting purity using Nextek’s invisible PolyPrism fluorescent markers was achieved. This, said Professor Edward Kosior, the driving force behind Nextloopp, was the real breakthrough: demonstrating that sorting into food packaging - as the current regulations require - is indeed possible, combined with the ability to clean and decontaminate recycled polypropylene packaging to food safety standards. For consumer safety, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) requires that recycled food-grade materials can only be made from (>95%) food packaging and that the recycled plastic must meet the same high standards required for virgin food-grade plastics.
Nextloopp is now dispatching its PPristine recycled PP prototype resins from post-consumer food packaging to its 43 participants for further trials, during which over 60 different products will be produced from Nextloopp’s four grades of PPristine food compliant and "INRT grade" resins.
This milestone confirms the project is poised to address the key challenges to recycling this valuable polymer, according to Luke Burgess, director of Business Development at Viridor, the UK’s largest recycling operator. It also opens up important commercial opportunities for the circular economy, he added.
Colleague participants concurred. Robinson Packaging’s Managing Director UK, Steve Haley, pointed to the rising demand for post-consumer recycled material and the need for a high-quality food-grade solution, while in Malaysia, Heng Hiap’s CEO, Kian Seah, foresaw demand for food-grade rPP soaring, driven by public and regulatory pressure as the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pro-Pac Packaging Group's Category Manager–Food, Tim Strachan, says they are exploring innovative, sustainable change in rigid PP packaging driven by consumers, retailers and their customers who all want to make an impact. Nextloop has provided tremendous knowledge, support and the technology to reach this latest milestone, noted Pro-Pac Packaging Group's Category Manager–Food, Tim Strachan, ‘bringing them even closer to answering the complexities of adding food-grade recycled PP material into food-grade PP products’.
Meanwhile, the project is now still fine-tuning the required data to compile the dossier for its application to EFSA and FDA for food compliance.
We remind, Ineos Olefins and Polymers Europe have joined the UK-based Nextloopp project, which is aiming to launch the first food-grade mechanically recycled polypropylene (R-PP) material from post-consumer waste in Europe. INEOS will be at the centre of an important two-year project that will inform the building of a demonstration plant in the UK to produce 10,000 tonnes per year of food-grade recycled polypropylene.
The Nextloopp project had initially targeted a launch date during the second half of 2022. However, delays resulting from the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit have pushed back the project completion date by approximately six months, in to 2023.
The group plans to overcome this challenge for R-PP by using marker technology to separate out the food-contact origin material at sorting and separation stage. The process will include a decontamination stage to comply with both EFSA and US Food and Drug Administration standards.