The wide world of recycling

The wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

In Europe, two companies have come up with novel plastics recycling applications, and China's new clampdown on imports of questionable recyclables could have significant bearing on markets for recycled commodities.

The Invicta Group, a Leicestershire, U.K.-based company that makes a range of household plastic goods, has become the first company to develop food-safe cups, plates and tableware made from 100-percent recycled PET and HDPE, reports GreenWise.

Currently, the company is working with Coca-Cola to see if the cups can be adopted as standard on store shelves. Invicta is also open to working with smaller companies, reports GreenWise.

Invicta made the breakthrough after four years of research and investing millions of pounds. The company now has two patented processes called "rPETable" and "RNEWable."

Ecover, a Belgian maker of environmentally-conscious cleaning products, has launched a new brand of packaging that will incorporate plastics recovered from the ocean.

"We are trying to set an example by using packaging itself to help solve a problem partly created by packaging waste, and we hope that many other brand owners will follow our lead," said Philip Malmberg, CEO of Ecover, in a post on the website of the trade association Packaging Europe.

Ecover will work with Waste Free Oceans, a group that works on the problem of marine debris, to send out a dedicated vessel to recover plastic waste from European coastal waters. The project will also set up collection points for the marine debris picked up by European fishing trawlers.

Boats outfitted with the customized equipment are expected to collect between two to eight tons of plastic scrap per trawl. The collected material will be sent to a facility in the U.K. run by Closed Loop Recycling for processing.

Malmberg expects the bottles containing the unique feedstock to be on the shelves by early 2014. Eighty to 90 percent of Ecover's product range will contain the feedstock, which will be mixed with a plastic made in part from sugar cane.

The Guardian reports that the company did not give details as to how much of the plastic would be retrieved from the sea or what percentage of it would be used in the new bottles.

"We won't have a definitive figure on the amount we will retrieve but we are just hoping to get as much as is possible and give fishermen an incentive to join the initiative and help clean the seas," Malmberg told the paper. "We want to get the sea waste in as much of our packaging as possible — it will always depend on the amount and quality of the plastic they have managed to capture."

As China cracks down on the import of poor-quality recyclables into the country, more volatility could be introduced into commodities markets, reports letsrecycle.com.

According to a letter seen by letsrecycle.com from the Chinese central government to port customs officials, authorities are going to take action to reduce waste being imported from overseas, which could affect industries that rely on exporting recyclables to the country.

As Western countries export poor-quality recyclables to the East, Chinese officials have shown signs that they will be less willing to accept contaminated commodities. In August 2012, China began rejecting recycled paper bales due to their high contamination levels. The British plastics industry has also become increasingly concerned that it will lose a significant market for its recovered plastics.

According to letsrecycle.com, the situation could result in markets becoming less stable.

"We see markets becoming more volatile," Yaya Cao, marketing executive at the Environment Exchange, which provides a trading platform for recovered paper, told letsrecycle.com. "For those involved the certainty of traded forward contracts becomes increasingly desirable."

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