Fully recyclable: glass-coated PET bottles resolve juice production challengePriority for fully recyclable PET bottles: when the German Packaging Law comes into effect on January 1, 2019, the new legislation will set down binding rules to increase recycling quotas. The amendment will levy higher fees for packaging which is difficult to recycle. This includes non-returnable PET bottles with composite materials for juice and nectar, among other products. Juice and nectar producers are thus currently looking for solutions which will help them to avoid the ensuing increase in costs. Here, FreshSafe PET technology from KHS presents a viable alternative as it combines product protection with bottle-to-bottle recyclability. In view of the European Strategy for Plastics and other national legislation in countries outside Germany, KHS' unique barrier technology is also gaining in significance at an international level.
When the new Packaging Law supersedes the present Packaging Ordinance at the start of next year as the legal framework for the German market, it not only defines a new target quota of 70% for returnable systems. The new regulations also prescribe increased recycling quotas for all types of packaging - also for plastics. As of January 58.5% of all plastic waste is to be recycled, i.e. the separate materials recovered and reused. From 2022 onwards this figure is to rise to 63%. At the moment the amount of plastic recycled in Germany totals around 36%.
In this context the dual waste disposal systems responsible for the collection of recyclable materials, such as non-returnable juice and nectar PET bottles, will be obliged to significantly increase their recycling quotas in the future. The new law allows them to reduce costs for easily and effectively recyclable materials and to charge more for packaging which is difficult to reuse. In the future the participation fees calculated on this basis will be determined by a number of ecological criteria. The better a type of packaging can be segregated and recycled, the lower the fees for beverage producers and retailers.
Additives in PET bottles complicate recycling
In particular, this rule has an effect on all those beverages whose packaging materials cannot be easily recycled as they contain additives. Juice and nectar producers especially, who fill their products into PET bottles, are affected in some areas. Non-returnable PET bottles are essentially fully recyclable; however, most of today's juice and nectar bottles do not consist solely of PET. In many cases they contain multilayer, blended or scavenger materials which protect the sensitive beverages from external influences such as oxygen pickup.
The composition of these PET bottles is such that it does not allow the materials to be collected by type and recycled together with PET bottles which fall under the one-way deposit system, thus hindering the establishment of a global recycling process. "One quarter of the clear rPET flakes from yellow recycling sacks contain scavengers which impair the quality with their yellowish color, for example," states Herbert Snell, managing director of the MultiPet GmbH recycling company. "Mixing PET bottles like these with other beverage bottles made of PET makes it more much more difficult to use these rPET flakes for bottle-to-bottle recycling."
This is why at the moment they cannot be included in the German deposit system for one-way packaging, says Snell. According to a current study by packaging market research institute GVM, about 10% of all non-returnable PET bottles do not carry a deposit, meaning that in 2017 38,000 metric tons of PET material bypassed the deposit system. At present the majority of such containers is used to bottle juices and nectars. If producers in this beverage segment fail to optimize their packaging portfolio with a view to full recyclability, they also face the threat of higher additional fees for placing classic PET bottles with additives on the market.
FreshSafe PET juice bottles 100% recyclable
Beverage producers can find one alternative in the FreshSafe PET technology provided by KHS. After the PET bottle has been manufactured, an ultra-thin glass coating is applied to its inside wall. These coated PET bottles are 100% recyclable as the coating is washed off during the recycling process, producing pure, fully segregated PET.