Plastics recyclers continue to push the envelope, improving their processes and procedures to bring cleaner, easier-to-process materials to market. The plastics industry should pay attention to the developments. Wellman Inc., the world's largest PET recycler, recently earned a letter of nonobjection from the Food and Drug Administration for a line of post-consumer PET sheet and bottle resin. Although FDA approval is not required for food-contact applications for recycled plastics, most food and beverage companies would not risk using the material without a nonobjection letter.
Wellman of Shrewsbury, N.J., joins bottle maker Johnson Controls Inc. in Manchester, Mich., as suppliers of conventionally recycled PET for food-contact applications. These materials are not the expensive, repolymerized PET resins that made a splash in the industry five years ago - in fact, Wellman expects to sell its post-consumer PET at prices comparable to virgin resins.
Undoubtedly that is partially the result of the challenging market that PET recyclers face today. Demand for PET from bottle-bill states, the cleanest available, remains high. Curbside collection programs, which expanded rapidly a few years ago, now are stalled. In the meantime, prices for recycled PET have slipped dramatically, the result of plentiful, inexpensive supplies of virgin PET.
Many processors will not use the new recycled food-contact PET resins unless they are forced to, either by their customers, public pressure or legislative mandate. Both JCI and Wellman expect more business, at least initially, in Europe, where government mandates and public demands for recycling are greater.
Innovative recyclers are smart to expand the market for their materials, for a niche business today and perhaps something greater in the future.
PN seeks nominations for Processor of Year
Do you know of or work for a processor that really has its act together? One with a track record of outstanding success that merits recognition? Tell us about it - and put that firm in the running for Plastics News' inaugural Processor of the Year Award.
The winner will be announced in October, and honored in November at Plastics Fair Charlotte in North Carolina. The award will be given to a company or division involved in North American processing for outstanding achievements in financial and quality performance, customer and employee relations, environmental record and public service from Aug. 1, 1995, to Aug. 1, 1996.
To nominate candidates, submit a statement of no more than 250 words and an entry form to: Processor of the Year Award, Plastics News, 1725 Merriman Road, Akron, Ohio 44313.
To request a form, call Bill Henson at (330) 836-9180, ext. 155, or e-mail [email protected]
Nominations must be received by Aug. 15.