Recy Food Pack

Recy Food Pack_iStock-1384807497_low web

The aim of the project for the industry partners is to gain knowledge and insight into what actions are needed to increase the use of recycled plastics in their products.

Published: 31. januar 2023 09:39 - Last changed: 5. juni 2023 11:45

Plastic packaging accounts for 40% of all plastic consumption in Europe. Of this fraction, food and beverage are again about 40% or 8 million tons. The use of recycled plastic in food packaging is limited by legislative food safety requirements, the plastics packaging recycling quality requirements and sorting and collection infrastructure.

RecyFoodPack aims to:

  • Safeguard food safety and quality
  • Developing innovative plastic packaging systems that increase the use of recycled plastic
  • Contribute to achieving Norway’s circular economy target

The RecyFoodPack project will develop a comprehensive knowledge platform for sustainable and safe food packaging materials based on Norwegian post-consumer plastic waste streams to demonstrate the suitability of mechanically recycled plastics for food contact packaging.

This project is important for the indus­trial partners to gain knowledge and insight into what actions are need­ed to increase the use of recycled plastics in their products, and at the same time:

  • Preserve food quality and safety
  • Lower carbon footprint (LCA)
  • Keep properties
  • Ensure profitability

Recy Food Pack_rfp_chart

The RecyFoodPack project is working with two main approaches

  1. 1 Controlled sorting of food packaging (closed loop strategies, reversed vending machines).
  2. 2 High-quality recycled household waste for food packaging behind a protective layer or functional barrier.

The project has selected case studies based on different plastics and process­es to gain a wide understanding of the issues related to each case. The case studies selected are based on injection molded PP, thermoformed PET trays and LD/LLDPE films. The work includes the use of recycled materials and the effect on material and food content:

  • Food safety and quality based on sort control, to gain knowledge in need of the type of functional barri­ers for different collection systems
  • Type of functional barriers needed for different non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) present in recycled materials.
  • Effect of different food types on the recycled plastics, for example, the effect of taste/odor transfer from previous content.
  • LCA analysis of the different scenarios, sorting and functional barrier solutions
  • Label solutions
  • Identify, demonstrate, and implement necessary upgrading measures.

RecyFoodPack project team

Recy Food Pack project team

Closed-loop case studies

New EU regulation on use of recycled plastic in food contact (EU2022/1616) set clear rules to ensure that recycled plastic can be safely used in food packaging in the EU. The new definition of “closed loop” is restricted to packaging that doesn’t reach the consumer. Such systems can more easily be approved by EFSA due to a lower risk of cross-contamina­tions. A typical example is returnable transport crates which are kept in a closed system by a system’s owner.

In RecyFoodPack we focus on consumer packaging and closed-loop systems for rigid packaging. Performance of PET trays or PP thin wall injection moulded packaging will be studied and compared to high-quality recycled PET tray materials and rigid PP from household waste.

Kindergarten collection

A collaboration with a local kindergarten was initiated to increase the knowledge and value of plastics recycling at an early stage and to collect rigid PP for research. The kindergarten families collected rigid PP and brought it to the kindergarten. This type of sorting is an attempt to mimic a reversed vending machine case that is based on consumer sorting of rigid PP packaging.

The collected rigid PP contained mostly injection molded articles such as for example yogurt cups, margarine tubs and ice cream boxes.

The collected rigid PP materials were recycled in Norner’s recycling pilot center and will be tested and compared to both stricter sorting (closed loop IM PP) and mixed household waste rigid PP with and without functional barriers.

This study will give new insight into how consumer-sorted rigid PP food packaging can have benefits to be collected in reversed vending machines, like PET beverage bottles. At the same time, the system is compared to high-quality recycled household waste PP and strict closed-loop recycling.

Recy Food Pack_plastbilde3_low
Recy Food Pack_plastbilde2_low

The project has the following steering committee members:

Ole Jan Myhre (Norner Research AS), Thomas Eie (Bama Industri AS), Mette Olsen (Bewi Norplasta AS), Eirik Bergh (MCC AS), Bente Jackwitz (Mills AS), Helga Næs (Nofima AS), Cecilia Askham (Norsus AS), Geir Sæther (Tomra Systems ASA). Funded by The Research Counsil of Norway, Sirkulær­økonomi­programmet, Grant no 320461.

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