Plastipak Holdings Inc. is striking a new deal with an Italian company to bring a PET chemical recycling process to market globally.
The Plymouth, Mich.-based company is already known for its mechanical recycling efforts and handles more than 20 billion bottles annually at four locations in the United States and Europe.
Subsidiary Plastipak Italia Preforme srl and Garbo srl have entered into "an exclusive relationship in Italy to develop and bring to market industrial scale PET chemical recycling for use in preform and bottle applications," Plastipak said in a statement.
Chief Financial Officer Michael Plotzke has visited Garbo's existing chemical recycling operation in Italy and sees the potential.
"Obviously, early stages. It's still somewhat under development but looks very promising," he said. "This is the direction for advancements in simplifying recycling and breaking it down to its rawest form."
Plastipak said Garbo's chemical recycling technologies will complement Plastipak's existing recycling and sustainability capabilities that utilize mechanical recycling methods.
Plans are to build a new processing facility about 60 miles from Plastipak's Verbania, Italy, manufacturing site for the new partnership. Plastipak also makes resin at that facility, which is about 1 million square feet.
"It's really an early stage in the relationship, and we're very optimistic that it's going to work and it's going to benefit us in many ways," Plotzke said.
Output from the new chemical recycling location eventually could be used in Plastipak's resin making operations.
Plastipak, also a major plastic rigid packaging maker, brings more than 50 years of experience to the new business venture, and Garbo has been in operation for more than 20 years.
Garbo's chemical recycling process is called ChemPET, which the company writes on its website is "capable of handling almost all the currently non-recoverable PET waste."
PET "is reacted selectively with ethylene glycol and transformed into an intermediate product." This output, called bis-hydroxy-ethylene-terephthalate, or BHET, can them be used to make new PET, the company reports.
Targeted materials include multilayer thermoforming scrap and trays, multilayer film, opaque rigid containers, PET fines and dust, black PET trays, nonwoven fabric waste and polyester and cotton blends, Garbo says on the website.
Along with its domestic PET mechanical recycling facility in Dundee, Mich., Plastipak has PET recycling operations in Beaune, France; Bascharage, Luxembourg; and Hemswell, England, the company said. Recycling operates under Plastipak's Clean Tech Inc. subsidiary. The company also recycles high density polyethylene bottles in Dundee.
While Plotzke said the new project is exciting, Plotzke did caution work still needs to take place to make the partnership successful.