Line producing rPET aims to meet hike in demand

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

A new line enables commercial production of a recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) food grade resin that overcomes the typical performance challenges of this type of packaging material, claims Phoenix Technologies.

The US based resin manufacturer said that the new modular line, consisting of a grinder, compactor and resin dryer, is being built in response to increased demand for post-consumer, food grade rPET for a variety of blow moulding, injection moulding and thermoforming applications.

According to the company, the line will be operational within the next two months.

Lori Carson, sales and marketing manager at Phoenix, told FoodProductionDaily.com that rPET packaging was the fastest growing packaging segment in the US in 2008.

She explained that Phoenix teamed up with Conair to build the processing equipment:

“They are a key supplier to the PET market, and have a global presence with international manufacturing and service locations. They are a premier systems integrator so this fits company strategy.”

Turnkey availability

Phoenix is also making its rPET technology available to other operators: “They can purchase a complete turnkey system, including a technology licence, with manufacturing capacity of either 4,500 or 9,000 metric tonne,”​ said Carson.

She said that the capacity of the new rPET processing line is projected at ten million pounds of resin annually to reflect the company’s philosophy of consumption, collection and conversion locally in order to be a better environmental partner:

This strategy lends itself to smaller capacity lines that can draw supply from narrower geographical regions. By locating rPET production in closer proximity to resin users you improve supply times and reduce the carbon footprint,”​ maintains Carson.

Challenges surmounted

She added that Phoenix’s rPET resin, LNOc, has been engineered in a way that eliminates or minimizes many of the difficulties that have prevented rPET from becoming a commercially viable packaging alternative for food and drink products.

“LNOc technology produces rPET with superior colour and yield as compared to other methods. Moreover, it has lower acetaldehyde (AA) levels which positively impact taste properties,”​ continued Carson.

She said that by grinding the rPET flakes particularly small there is better dispersal of particles, with the miniscule size enabling quick decontamination, fast output and significant energy savings: “The c in the brand name refers to the ‘compacted’ resin that is the end result.”

Packaging applications

The LNOc resin, explained Carson, was developed specifically for water bottles, but can also be used for fresh food containers and bottles targeted at a range of beverage types.

Although, there have been successful trials of up to 100 per cent, she said that Phoenix is expecting most food grade applications to run between 25 to 50 per cent rPET. “The percentage of rPET vs. virgin resin will depend on individual product and processing parameters,”​ she said.

Carson said that the company is in the process of partnering with parent companies to gain approvals for the resin in countries outside of its US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acceptance.

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