With the adoption of its new circular economy strategy in late 2019, Greiner Packaging has been assessing development of sustainable material solutions for its customers. Next to cutting CO2 emissions and material savings, the company has also been working to increase the recyclability of its packaging and the use of more recycled materials, such as recycled PET, recycled polypropylene and recycled polystyrene.
Already, the company used recycled PET and PP to produce its plastic packaging, although mainly as a specific solution for a customer. As specialists in packaging for the food and non-food sectors, the company serves many customers in the dairy industry, where PP and PS are commonly used. Recycled PP and PS, however, for the most part are not approved for food contact applications and often have only limited availability.
For example, mechanically recycled PP may not be used in food packaging applications, although Greiner Packaging is currently involved in a project to obtain food-contact approval for mechanically recycled PP. Chemically recycled PP is suitable for food contact, but not readily available, as large-scale PP recycling streams are lacking.
Recycled PS, too, is in very short supply and recycling streams must first be established. However, earlier tests have already shown that the high purity content of PS makes it highly suitable for mechanical recycling, and Greiner Packaging has already been able to produce yogurt containers made from 100 percent recycled material. The process for obtaining certification of recycled PS for use in yogurt containers is already underway in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Greiner has been taking a closer look at recycled PET, a readily available material through existing bottle recycling streams. So far, it has not been considered for dairy packaging, where high temperature sterilization (HTS), during which temperatures of up to 120°C are reached, is required. Yet, on the other hand, recycled PET is a food-approved recycled material. Greiner Packaging is currently engaged in tests for the dairy industry to establish whether PET is able to tolerate temperatures of up to 120°C.