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Definition and development of functional barriers for the use of recycled materials in multilayer food packaging


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Plasticity Forum highlights plastics recycling issues and opportunities

Anaheim, Calif. — Plastics recycling, ocean pollution and program investments were among the sustainability topics at the first Plasticity Forum in California.

While noting that the U.S. is far from ideal on plastics recycling, "California is so far ahead of other areas," said Douglas Woodring, the primary organizer of the May 9 event.

"Plastics is the most complex difficult materials to recycle" and "most of the world today does not have the ability to recover materials," resulting in a recycling rate of less than 15 percent globally.

Woodring identified a communications challenge. "Recycled content get used without anyone knowing" about the resource recovery.

Based in Hong Kong, Woodring is founder of the nonprofit Ocean Recovery Alliance, an umbrella organization encouraging environmental initiatives and developing pollution-prevention programs such as the measurement-driven Plastic Disclosure Project and the stakeholder-linking Global Alert platform.

Woodring said the disclosure project is "coming to fruition" and that The CEO Magazine picked the Global Alert as one of the top software applications in the world.

FreshRealm LLC FreshRealm LLC is using reusable cubes to reduce waste for meal delivery firms. Reusable containers

Scott Clear discussed efforts of online marketplace FreshRealm LLC of Ventura, Calif., and its partners using reusable 17-inch cubes, each called a Vessel, to deliver freshly prepared meals to homes and cut down on food waste. Clear is chief design and innovation officer with the RKS agency in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Partners in the project include publicly traded Calavo Growers Inc. of Santa Paula, Calif., and Calavo business segment Renaissance Food Group LLC. RKS worked with Calavo and RFG on packing concepts in helping develop the Vessel, which is characterized as the first reusable packaging of its kind.

Calavo's annual report quotes from a Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals survey: "The time it takes for food manufacturers to deliver on retailers' orders has been cut by 75 percent from eight days down to two days, an indication of just-in-time distribution's growing importance."

M&A in recycling

Uday Nanday of Stifel Financial Corp. highlighted opportunities in the financial side of plastics recycling, specifically in mergers and acquisitions.

"Plastics worth $80 billion to $120 billion are thrown away annually," said Nanday, managing director for plastics, packaging and paper in the industrial group of Stifel's investment banking practice.

For perspective about the plastics recycling and resource recovery sector, Nanday identified 11 business-consolidating transactions during 2016 and another five in the first four months of 2017.

In case studies, Nanday noted Paris-based Veolia Environment SA's July 2016 acquisition of the East London manufacturing assets of Closed Loop Recycling; Arendonk, Belgium-based Ravago SA's September 2016 acquisition of Industrial Resin Recycling Inc. in Howell, Mich.; and New York-based Loews Corp.'s April 11 letter of agreement to acquire Consolidated Container Co. and recyclers Envision Plastics Industries LLC and Ecoplast Corp. from Bain Capital Private Equity for about $1.2 billion.

Preventing marine debris

Ricardo Bayon, partner with Encourage Capital LLC in New York, discussed efforts to solve the problem of plastic gyres before the resin gets into the ocean.

"We must solve it on land," he said. While 8 million tons of plastic materials go into the ocean annually, that represents only "a fraction of plastic waste."

Bayon referenced the 153-page report "Sea of Opportunity: Supply Chain Investment Opportunities to Address Marine Plastic Pollution." Paul Allen, Microsoft Corp. co-founder and philanthropist, funded the Encourage Capital report, which was issued in February.

"We must manage waste in a big way," Bayon said.

The report estimated that 80 percent of plastic waste comes from land-based sources and about half of that comes from four countries: China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. Rapidly developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America account for the other 40 percent. Funding is needed for programs in waste-generating regions.

Bayon discussed how investors are afraid of investing in a commodity.

"While some investors are willing to take a risk, most deals do not have a return," he said. The lack of a return and the high risk are discouraging investment.

Mechanisms for reducing ocean plastic, according to the report, include decreasing plastic production, reducing plastic waste generation, reducing mismanaged plastic waste and capturing mismanaged plastic waste before it becomes marine debris.

State grants and loans

In California, May 25 was the deadline to apply under the 2016-2017 cycle of the state's greenhouse-gas-reduction grant and loan program, said Jim Hill, senior recycling specialist with the CalRecycle agency. The programs provide financial incentives for capital investments in infrastructure for aerobic composting, anaerobic digestion and recycling and manufacturing facilities that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Roofs use PET bottles

The brother-sister team at Ecomuro H2O of Bogota, Colombia, spoke about a wall of 182 interconnected PET bottles in a system for harvesting rainwater.

The efforts of Ricardo Enrique Alba Torres, 22, and Jessica Bibiana Alba Torres, 20, have benefited 14 communities, gained support from Rotary International and is moving toward a second generation using "huge bottles" for industry. Their Green Roofs programs at schools use filters to remove dirt in rainwater flowing from the roof.

Methods Products Method Products is using reclaimed plastics collected by Envision Plastics' OceanBound operation. Recycling ocean-bound plastics

Tamsin Ettefagh discussed Envision Plastics' OceanBound Plastic goal over two years to prevent up to 10 million of plastic from polluting the oceans.

"We want to give back to the community," said Ettefagh, vice president of sales with Envision in Reidsville, N.C. "We aim for consumer engagement."

The program uses Envision's global supply chain and manufacturing capability to incorporate OceanBound Plastic into products.

In 2011, Envision partnered with environmentally friendly Method Products PBC of San Francisco in efforts to maximize uses of post-consumer resin.

Envision has produced more than 750 million pounds of recycled resin since the business started in 2001.

Testing new technologies

Edward Kosior talked about possibilities to make recycled plastics equivalent to virgin resin. Kosior is managing director of London-based plastics recycling consultancy Nextek Ltd.

Ten partners are testing the use of as many as five ultraviolet-light-visible markers for the sorting of food-grade items from mixed plastics. "The tests are still in process," Kozior said.

In addition, he mentioned the formulation of a black pigment that can be read by visible spectroscopy machines.

"Products and resins must be designed to be recycled into a defined destination replacing virgin resin," Kozior said.

Update on depolymerization

Lawrence Black reviewed the success of Vadxx Energy LLC of Cleveland with its proprietary thermal depolymerization technologies to convert plastic waste into high-value Eco-Fuels and petrochemicals. Black is a senior advisor to the Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative, a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and owner of the Evergreen, Colo.-based Black Ink Consulting Inc.

Black said the U.S. waste management system in place today "is the biggest impediment to achieving recycling success." Municipalities are "unenthused," and no new technology is available.

"Across the U.S., there are 97,000 40-foot cargo containers" holding plastic waste, Black said. "There is no market and no home for those plastics."

Advocating for social investing

Conrad MacKerron identified issues that nonprofit As You Sow of Oakland, Calif., is pursuing as an advocate for environmental and social corporate responsibility. He is the group's senior vice president.

As You Sow expects to have discussions by 2018 with PepsiCo. Inc. of Purchase, N.Y., and Nestlé Waters North America Inc. of Stamford, Conn., about their practices.

Near term, funding is short to challenge managements in improve performance, and government mandates are unlikely, MacKerron said. "We need a road in between that."

Ambitious initiative in Australia

Trish Hyde described the role of the Sydney-based Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Ltd. of which she is CEO.

Under an agreement between industry and government, the APC five-year plan aims to use and dispose of packaging resources wisely to minimize the environmental impact. On Nov. 25, the commonwealth, state and territory environment ministers endorsed the new plan, which became effective Jan. 1.

APC, "an ambitious sustainability initiative," according to Hyde, has annual reporting requirements enabling APC members to meet objectives and bypass compliance with the government's National Environment Protection Measures.

Recycling fishing nets

Christina Weber outlined an Interface Inc. fishing-net-recycling program now in use and empowering people in 36 coastal communities in the Philippines and being expanded to Cameroon.

Since 2012, local participants in the "waste becomes wealth" program have collected 142 metric tons, or 313,056 pounds, of abandoned fishing gear, disclosed Weber, Interface regional vice president in San Francisco for global and strategic accounts.

Partners in the program are the Zoological Society of London, synthetic fibers and polymers maker Aquafil SpA of Arco, Italy, and modular carpet manufacturer Interface of Atlanta.

"We are expanding to more communities for the recycling of marine waste," Weber said.

The U.S. Department of State recognized Interface with a corporate management award for the program.

The ninth Plasticity Forum will occur in Sydney in late 2017, Woodring said.

» Publication Date: 07/06/2017

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, technological development and demonstration (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [606572].

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