Düsseldorf, Germany — Versatile, reusable and suitable for all kinds of industrial packaging, PET is pivotal to the plastics industry. And Italian machinery maker Sacmi Imola S.C. says it has its sights set on giving the material a second life.
The company developed an injection preform system (IPS) that can make 100 percent recycled PET preforms and use recycled PET flakes in quantities up to 50 percent using standard machines and hot runners.
Sacmi has two versions of the system: the IPS220 and IPS400 with 96 and 128 cavities, respectively, that offer fast changeovers for flexibility. The larger version is also compatible with most resins.
The company is also developing a 300-metric-ton machine that will be delivered by the end of 2020, according to Iacopo Bianconcini, Sacmi's marketing manager who also handles business development for the closures, containers and PET division.
At K, Sacmi showed the 220-tonne IPS platform. The machine produced PET preforms for bottled water using 40 percent flakes and 60 percent virgin PET.
Sacmi said the advancement represents another revolution for an industry "almost exclusively" focused on lightweighting until promoting the circular economy became a coordinated effort.
With members of the European Parliament voting in favor of proposals to curb plastic waste and pollution and increase recyclability efforts, companies including Sacmi have had to strategize.
"This is having, and will have, a huge impact across all departments in the Sacmi packaging business unit from material development to processing and technology," Bianconcini said in emailed responses before the K show. "For instance, we are focusing on a major shift toward PET, so Sacmi is developing a comprehensive approach to this material."
Bianconcini said the company has helped its customers reduce their environmental impact by developing technology that cuts the amount of virgin resin required in the process. Other efforts include using more recyclable raw materials and reducing capsule, preform and container weight, which also reduces material consumption.
To help the industry transition to what the company calls a "zero-impact future," Sacmi has intensified its attention on complete recycling as called for by the circular economy and a European proposal to mandate tethered caps on bottles.
"There is another piece of legislation that is heavily impacting Sacmi's business: the one stating that from 2024 onward, plastic closures must remain attached to single-use plastic beverage containers," Bianconcini said. "Remember, over 40 percent of beverage flat-top plastic closures are produced with Sacmi compression technology worldwide. So, we're developing — both independently and with our partners in the supply chain — a set of tethered solutions."