Institutionals Relations, RETRAY Certification / 30.06.2023

News from the PET Thermoforming sector: “a path to circularity”

News from the PET Thermoforming sector: “a path to circularity”

With the title “2023 Thermoforming: a path to circularity” PETCORE organized in Bologna, the past 14th June, a successful event gathering relevant companies and professionals with the objective to promote PET thermoforms collection and recycling. ECOSENSE Foundation participated presenting its RETRAY certification scheme showing the effort done by the certified and approved companies to promote tray-to-tray recycling in Europe.

Although it is very difficult to summarize all the interesting interventions, we would like to highlight the EU Regulatory updates presented by M. Leonor García related to the 17th amendment of the Plastics Regulation (EU) 10/2011, motivated mainly by the alignment needed with the Recycled Plastics Regulation (EU) 2022/1616, and the EC proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation that has received 2741 amendments and it is expected to be voted in Plenary of the Parliament on the 2nd October.

Regarding Extended Producer Responsibility Systems (EPRs), ECOEMBES (Spain) and COREPLA (Italy) presented how each country is improving, in different ways, the recovery and recycling rates for PET thermoforms. In the case of Spain, the PET bales from the sorting plants are sent to the PET bottles recyclers who must recover thermoforms and sent them to the PET trays recyclers. In Italy the PET thermoforms are separated in the sorting plants and bales are sent directly to the PET trays recyclers.

The recyclers companies explained how PET trays recycling technology has evolved and improved in the last years as well as recycling capacity will do it during the followings. Spain is the European leader country in mono and multilayer PET tray recycling thanks to the first and more experienced recycling company SULAYR, who operates since 2010 and expects to recycle 30.000 tons in 2023, and the new recycler REPETCO who has recently built a new plant and expects to recycle 45.000 tons annually on a first stage. A specific case presented was CIRREC in The Netherlands, with a recycling capacity without delamination of 24.000 tonnes per year and their own circularity programmes to recover their own material in a closed loop.

PET sheet converters were represented by KP Group, ILPA Group and GUILLIN Groupe. As leaders in high barrier protective packaging and durables KP is already using 26,5% of post-consumer recycled material in their PET packaging and will reach 30% by the end of 2025. ILPA presented its vertical integration of r-PET supply-chain with the acquired company AMP in 2012 for the recycling of PET bottles and trays and GUILLIN explained that, depending on the country, they use post-consumer r-PET flakes coming only from trays or mixed with r-PET flakes coming from bottles.

In the technology providers sector, DOW presented its PET recycling boosters as successful modifiers for recovery of PET original impact and viscosity, enabling the use of larger percentage of PET thermoforms in recycled blends, and improving impact properties of the thermoformed products. For its part, VISCOTEC (Starlinger), as leader recycling technology, presented their pre-after-treatment and entire sheet extrusion solutions explaining that regarding CO2 footprint2 of trays r-PET outperforms all other packaging options (e.g., -46% vs. PP for a ham tray or -51% vs. PS for a yoghurt cup).

Finally, in the last part of the event the PETCORE team updated the information regarding two current topics: 1) The Functional Barrer Consortium created in collaboration with PETSHEET Europe thanks to which more than 50 member companies are supported to comply with article 32 of the EU 2022/1616 regulation regarding the specific transitional provisions applicable to the manufacture of materials and articles in which the recycled plastic is used behind a functional barrier, and 2) The Tray Circularity Evaluation Platform (TCEP) integrated by technical experts in the field of PET thermoforms design, production and recycling, whose objective is the evaluation of existing technologies and innovation providing an independent and confidential assessment of their impact on the PET thermoforms recycling processes across Europe.