Food Grade Recovery of Post-Consumer HDPE Milk Bottles
Austrian company Starlinger viscotec has received FDA approval for its deCON decontamination dryer to make food grade flakes from post-consumer recycled HDPE milk bottles. The cleaning efficiency of the deCON enables the re-use of PCR HDPE for food packaging applications under conditions E through G.
Due to its higher diffusion and sorption behaviour, PCR HDPE faces even stricter safety criteria than PCR PET. Hence, a prerequisite for the production of food grade HDPE is a strictly defined input material stream. The Starlinger LNO (Letter of Non-Objection) is based on PCR HDPE milk bottles with sorting purity of >99%. The LNO is granted for the use of up to 50% of recyclate content in the HDPE container. The super-clean rHDPE flakes can be used for containers for fresh milk, juices, meat trays, and similar products under conditions E through G (i.e. room temperature filled and stored, refrigerated storage, and frozen storage).
rHDPE is a promising market within the food packaging industry. In the UK, 122,000 tonnes of HDPE milk bottles were consumed in 2010 and 93,000 tonnes were collected for recycling, generating a recycling rate of 76 %. Nevertheless, 22,700 tonnes of HDPE milk bottles were still landfilled that year (figures supplied by Recoup).
Starlinger viscotec (the solid state polycondensation division of Starlinger) has 7 years of experience in decontamination and IV-increase of post-consumer PET material, and has already sold two deCON modules for food grade recovery of PCR HDPE. Due to the sophisticated technology of the viscotec equipment, cleaning efficiencies of around 99.9 % are achieved, which makes the recyclate comparable with virgin material. Food grade without compromise according to EFSA and FDA is the premise.
The solid state reactor viscoSTAR processes pellets and flakes and can be installed in front of a production extruder, after a pelletising line, or as a stand-alone unit. The decontamination dryer deCON can be used to make recycled bottles into dry, food-grade PET or HDPE, to feed a production extruder or as a stand-alone unit.