Greiner Packaging is exhibiting at EasyFairs’ Packaging innovations show at the NEC in May, with the message: ‘Design for recycling is the key to sustainable packaging’.
“We believe that to develop and deliver the most sustainable packaging solutions, recyclability needs to be designed in from the start,” says Greiner Packaging UK & Ireland Sales Director Julie Eller. “Design for recycling covers every aspect of the packaging and starts with the materials we use. Our factory in Dungannon, Northern Ireland recently invested over £3,700,000 in a new PET decontamination and extrusion line to enable the use of more recycled materials in its market leading cup, pot and tub ranges as well as continuing innovation with more sustainable materials.”
Recycled PET flake is cleaned and washed, but still requires further decontamination, so a new world-class decontamination unit has been installed which enables the removal of impurities, creating a food-safe material. This is integrated with a new material feed system which is directly linked to a new, state-of-the-art extrusion line. This combination gives complete flexibility with the capacity to utilise recycled input materials, virgin or a combination of both, giving total flexibility to meet product and customer requirements.
“Investing in these new machines is the latest step in our continued commitment to innovate, increase capacity and reduce our carbon footprint,” says Julie Eller.“ Since Greiner Packaging first introduced its K3® cardboard-plastic innovation in 2007, there has been continuous investment at our UK manufacturing facility. But alongside investing to create new packaging solutions, there has been a constant focus on investing in improving our environmental sustainability performance and pursuing our goal to achieve a circular economy.”
New in-house r-PET capability
“Installing the new equipment allows Greiner Packaging to integrate the supply chain, and it is planned to soon be able to include at least 30% recycled content in all products,” says Julie Eller. “Rather than buying-in PET sheet and selling off any waste, we can now create recycled PET (r-PET) sheet on-site, and re-use excess material.
“Currently, most of the recycled PET supply available in the UK originates from plastic bottles, a very clean source. The new integrated line enables ‘tray-to-tray recycling’ – meaning that we can process material from a wider variety of sources and utilise a lighter grade of recyclate. This novel process and equipment arrangement will provide greater capability to control and enhance material characteristics to better meet customer’s product specifications.”
Using the new in-house r-PET capability, a wide range of 100% r-PET K3® products are now available. Greiner Packaging’s adaptable, popular and successful K3® cardboard-plastic combination, reduces plastic consumption, while creating eye-catching packaging designed to maximise marketing opportunities. Thanks to its reduced plastic content, the K3® packaging solution has an improved CO2 footprint and it can be recycled efficiently, as the cardboard and plastic can be easily separated.
K3® comes of age
Beyond the use of recyclable materials, themselves made from recyclate, the pack design and function is the next critical stage.
“Our K3® cardboard-plastic solution has truly come of age,” says Julie Eller. “Not only does it now feature an innovative improved tear-tab, making it even easier for consumers to separate the outer cardboard wrapper from the plastic cup to enable recycling, but we have successfully trialled a solution in which the cardboard wrap separates itself from the plastic cup during the waste collection process – before the packaging arrives at the recycling facility.”
K3® r100 enables cardboard and plastic to be assigned to the correct material streams during the initial sorting process before being recycled.
“The best-case scenario is still for consumers to separate the cardboard wrap from the plastic cup before disposing of the parts properly, and the new tear tab makes this so much easier,” Julie Eller stresses. “For this reason, the new K3® r100 solution still features the innovative tear-tab, designed to make separating the plastic and cardboard easier and more intuitive. This means that environmentally conscious consumers can play their part when it comes to efficient recycling, and many brand owners are using the printable reverse of the removable cardboard wrap for promotions and to share their sustainability journey with consumers.
“We went to our last UK trade event with the theme ‘We love sustainable plastics’, and at Packaging Innovations, we want to take the story one step further,” concludes Julie Eller. “We want visitors to see and feel our sustainable solutions and understand how working with Greiner Packaging can help their businesses reduce their carbon footprint and enhance their sustainability credentials – while also involving their end-user consumers in that all-important journey.”