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Operational Efficiency Month

EFSA gives OK to three PET recycling processes

By Joe Whitworth+

17-Feb-2014
Last updated on 17-Feb-2014 at 18:48 GMT

Picture copyright: Clyde Robinson_Flickr
Picture copyright: Clyde Robinson_Flickr

Three processes for recycling post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into food contact materials have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The Direction Générale de la Concurrence de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes (France), requested the evaluation of the systems.

The Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) assessed safety of the recycling processes APPE Supercycle B, LPR and France Plastiques Recyclage (FPR).

APPE approval

In the first opinion , the input is hot caustic washed and dried PET flakes from collected post-consumer PET containers, with no more than 5% of PET from non-food consumer applications.

Washed and dried PET flakes (step 1) are further dried at high temperature (step 2), extruded under vacuum and pelletised (step 3), according to applicant Artenius PET recycling.

The pellets are crystallised and pre-heated in a continuous system under inert gas (step 4) and solid state polymerised (SSP) in a reactor at high temperature under vacuum (step 5).

The panel concluded that the crystallisation (step 4) and the decontamination in the SSP reactor (step 5) are critical steps for the decontamination efficiency. The operating parameters to control their performance are temperature, pressure and residence time

The panel concluded that the recycled PET intended to be used at up to 100% for the manufacture of articles for contact with all types of foodstuffs for long term storage at room temperature, with or without hotfill is not considered of safety concern.

The trays made of recycled PET are not intended to be used in microwaves and ovens.

LPR opinion

In the second opinion , Lorraine Plast recycling said the recycled PET is intended to be used at up to 50% in mixtures with virgin PET, in the manufacture of bottles, for contact with all foodstuffs and up to 85% in mixtures with virgin PET, in the manufacture of thermoformed trays and containers, intended for contact with all foodstuffs except packaged water.

The recycled articles are for long term storage at room temperature, with or without hotfill.

In the five step process post-consumer collected PET bottles are processed into washed and dried flakes used as input to the LPR decontamination technology.

Dried flakes are heated in a continuous reactor under vacuum (step 2) and heated in a second continuous reactor under vacuum (step 3) before being extruded (step 4). Finally, they are crystallised and solid state polymerised (step 5).

The operating parameters to control performance are temperature, pressure, gas flow and residence.

CEF said it is not considered a safety concern but put parameters including the final bottles manufactured with the recycled pellets do not contain more than 50% recycled post-consumer PET and thermoformed trays and containers manufactured do not contain more than 85% recycled post-consumer PET.

FPR process

In the third opinion , the recycling process FPR is based on the Starlinger Recostar PET IV+ technology.

Post-consumer collected PET bottles are processed into washed flakes (step 1) which are used as input to the Starlinger Recostar PET IV+ technology.

PET flakes are dried under desiccant air flow at high temperature (step 2), extruded into pellets at high temperature and vacuum (step 3), step 4 involves crystallisation and a solid state polymerisation (SSP) process under vacuum at high temperature and long residence time to increase the molecular weight and the viscosity.

Pre-drying and drying (step 2), extrusion and pelletising (step 3) and the decontamination in continuous SSP reactor (step 4) are the critical steps for decontamination efficiency.

The panel concluded that the recycled PET intended to be used at up to 100% for the manufacture of materials and articles for contact with all foodstuffs for long term storage at room temperature, with or without hotfill is not considered of safety concern.

The trays made of recycled PET are not intended to be used in microwaves and ovens.

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