In our new, recently approved, Innosuisse project, we are researching a closed loop for post-consumer food packaging made of polypropylene (PP) - together with our research partners, KATZ (Plastics Training and Technology Center) and the Institute for Technology Management of the University of St. Gallen (HSG-ITEM) and our industrial partners BASF Schweiz AG, Coop Genossenschaft, Emmi Schweiz AG, Greiner Packaging AG, InnoPlastics AG, Migros Industrie AG, Silac AG and Säntis Packaging AG.
The project will start in October 2023, last 1.5 years and build on the successful Innovation Booster project "Circular Economy for Polypropylene (CE4PP)", in which we investigated the theoretical recyclability of PP packaging.
Our aim is to get closer to the use of recycled PP in food packaging and thus make an important contribution to reducing waste and environmental pollution. For this purpose, a viable value chain for secondary PP for food packaging will be formed and experimentally verified in this project. The recycling of post-consumer food packaging in a closed loop will be closely examined. In addition, the focus is on questions of implementation in practice, food conformity, recyclate quality, ecology and economic viability.
Our implementation partners are located along the entire value chain and provide exceptionally valuable contributions with their know-how, on which the success of this project depends. At realcycle, we bring the partners together and enable the successful and sustainable implementation of the project with our expertise in sustainable circular economy, environmental assessment and project management.
Figure: Overview of the work steps of the project "Development of closed loops for food contact rPP".
At KATZ, research partner of the Innosuisse project, the materials collected by the retailers Coop and Migros are subjected to various technical investigations. For this purpose, the post-consumer material is sorted and washed, supported by InnoPlastics AG and BASF with its subsidiary trinamiX GmbH and its business unit Chemetall GmbH. Regranulate is produced from the washed post-consumer PP with the help of InnoPlastics' know-how. Subsequently, based on the specifications of the processors Greiner Packaging AG, Silac AG and Säntis Packaging AG, research is carried out at KATZ together with BASF Plastic Additives into formulations for secondary materials. Ultimately, the aim is to produce a regranulate that is suitable for food use. This will be formed into packaging at the processors and then filled at the food manufacturer Emmi, where the contents will in turn be tested for harmful substances. HSG-ITEM will conduct a systemic economic analysis in parallel with the technical investigations to test economic viability. The latter will support the companies in implementing the findings in a sustainable manner. We at realcycle will also examine the ecological impact as part of a comprehensive life cycle assessment to ensure that the project is also ecologically sustainable.