PWP Invests In Making New Plastic Food Packaging From Reclaimed Plastic Bottles

pwp packaging product tubs photo

PWP-made compartmented trays and platters.
Image credit:PWP Industries

Only a small fraction of all plastic food packaging material currently is recycled in the USA. Much of what is reclaimed goes to China, if not to local landfills. Most of what packaging plastic does get recycled in the USA is "down-cycled." So, it's a real eye-catcher to see PWP Industries investing in making food packaging directly from reclaimed beverage bottles.

Two things make the PWP investment unique: its large scale, and the meeting of food contact spec so "down-cycling" will be averted.
PWP Industries has announced plans to open a second California recycling facility that will be able to recycle 40 million pounds of post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate, or PETE, bottles. The Coca Cola subsidiary, according to Plastics News will open the 20-million dollar facility next year. Site capacity is slated to increase dramatically in the year following.

The polymer "flakes" produced at the California packaging material recycling facility will be compliant with FDA's food-contact regs. That means more food packaging can be made from it directly - without diluting with virgin polymer, and not requiring multi-layering or coating to cover the recycled plastic to preclude food contact.

Surplus flakes will be sold on the open market in California- hopefully to local package producers.

In the parlance of recycling pros and cons: the system design is "closed loop" and potentially, as least, very efficient because the "loops" will be small. (No more boat trips back and forth from China.)

Details from Plastics News:

The PWP recycling facility will accept "dirty bottles" from any available resource in California including PET containers from business partner Coca-Cola Recycling LLC. The Atlanta-based limited liability company is a subsidiary of publicly traded Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., the largest bottler of Coca-Cola products.

The facility would make the recycled food-grade-suitable flake available to other Californians. Those non-PWP "outsiders would be able to buy" the material, Farahnik noted. "Now a lot of PET bottles from California are being shipped to China."

Also from Plastics News, the positive greenhouse gas impact will be significant.
The California project will enable PWP to further its commitment to save energy, reduce the output of carbon dioxide and keep plastic out of landfills, Farahnik said.

He used a greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to estimate the new California plant at full capacity would eliminate 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equaling what 10,000 passenger cars can produce in a year, and reduce the need for 780 million kilowatt hours of energy, equaling the power requirement for 50,000 homes or Flagstaff, Ariz., for one year.

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