Food packaging recycling has become increasingly important for a truly circular economy solution. Due to society's growing awareness of the need for the sustainable use of plastics, even lower quality post-consumer plastics need to be processed into food contact compliant pellets.
Legal requirements, such as the recycling quotas set by the EU and the Australian targets for recycling content set by APCO (Australian Packaging Covenant) are causing a shift in the supply chain. Additionally, globally operating brand owners and manufacturers are launching initiatives that require higher proportions of recycled pellets in their packaging.
Therefore, packaging suppliers are increasingly looking for stable and reliable sources for food contact compliant recyclate material.
The systems of the Austrian manufacturer EREMA are the successful solution for this development. EREMA is not only the world’s number one in plastics recycling machines but is also renowned for highly efficient post-consumer to food-grade recycling systems.
Food Grade HDPE Recycling
The Austrian company is the first machine builder that received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval for their process to produce food compliant post-consumer recycled HDPE (PCR-HDPE) packaging, that can contain up to 100 % of PCR-HDPE from food packaging.
This process involves the patented INTAREMA® TVEplus® RegrindPro® extrusion systems in combination with the well-proven ReFresher module.
The extruder system TVEplus® offers filtration, homogenisation, and degassing at the highest level. It also processes difficult materials like heavily printed films and/or very moist materials with ease.
The RegrindPro® turns a wide variety of regrind material into application-optimised recycled pellets through the gentle processing and highly efficient filtration.
The high decontamination performance of this machine is due to two factors:
The pre-treatment of the material during the dwell time in the preconditioning unit of the recycling extruder
The additional removal of low-volatility odorous substances from the granulate by the ReFresher
The high-quality outcome of this combination is the basis for the approval for food contact compliance given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
PET Recycling for Food Contact Compliance
Alongside with the sustainable solution for HDPE recycling, EREMA’s VACUREMA and VACUNITE systems allow for efficient food contact compliant PET recycling.
The VACUREMA has been launched in 1998 and was the global market leader for PET bottle recycling ever since.
Now, the new system VACUNITE combines a further developed VACUREMA, with the V-LeaN Solid State Polycondensation from Polymetrix.
This duo is perfectly adapted to the demand for higher use of recycled material because it is forgiving in its input quality requirements. Therefore, VACUNITE can process non-food grade recycled post-consumer PET into food-grade PET products for all applications.
The key quality and safety advantage of VACUNITE is the nitrogen and vacuum atmosphere in which all thermal process steps take place. In the end, this technology is not only compact but also consumes considerably less energy than comparable systems on the market.
Food Grade Recycling that fits the Increased Demand
EREMA offers systems that can turn lower-quality post-consumer PET and HDPE into high-quality food contact compliant rPET and rHDPE. EREMA’s systems are therefore the perfect answer to the increasing demand for higher use of recycled material in food packaging recycling.
PET and HDPE recycling with EREMA means meeting consistently high quality of recyclate output while being flexible with varying qualities of input material.