As part of our sustainability commitment, we would like to talk about the RETRAY project, an initiative from the Plastic Sense Foundation. The foundation was set up by businesses in the plastic sector and the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission. Its objective is clear: to raise awareness the work, research and innovation carried out by businesses in the PET tray value chain, as well as milestones reached, in relation with the circular economy and PET food trays.
THE PLASTIC SENSE FOUNDATION AND THE ECOSENSE CERTIFICATION
SP Group is part of the ECOSENSE group of businesses committed to using and recycling PET food trays. Through the foundation, we are the first business to obtain the ECOSENSE certification which, in relation to our film manufacturing business (the certification also covers packaging manufacturers, packers and complex film recyclers) showcases the use of recycled PET flakes to manufacture single layer and multi-layer films or trays.
The flakes are obtained from used recycled trays and from waste material from their manufacture. The recycling takes place in facilities that have already been approved by the foundation. The focus is on PET as a (plastic) material with huge scope for recycling and which is also incredibly safe from a health perspective. Hence its use in food and drink packaging.
PET may contain between 70% and 100% recycled material, depending on the required features of the film for packaging one type of product or another.
What does the RETRAY project from Plastic Sense bring to the table, and why is it a step forward in terms of the sustainability goals of the Plastic Sense Foundation?
THE RETRAY PROJECT OR SUSTAINABLE PET TRAY CERTIFICATION
The project has a clear objective: work together to improve the recyclability of PET food trays. The ECOSENSE certification seeks to consolidate post-industrial PET recycling to support the circular economy. The RETRAY certification or sustainable PET tray certification, on the other hand, aspires to create appropriate channels for post-consumer tray waste.
We were awarded the ECOSENSE certification for our good use of post-industrial waste PET, and the RETRAY project will try to ensure that used trays are recycled in accordance with efficiency and profitability criteria for municipal waste management, with the involvement of all stakeholders in the plastic value chain. The process involves the following steps:
● The material is ground down into flakes.
● A physical process separates the films.
● The PET is separated from the polyolefins and any impurities are eliminated.
The result comprises PET flakes and PE chips suitable for reuse.
This is a significant achievement considering that most PET food trays deposited by consumers in packaging recycling containers are currently going to waste without contributing any recycled material to the production chain.
Waste recovery and recycling businesses are gradually throwing their weight behind this effort and obtaining sustainable PET tray* or RETRAY certification.
SP GROUP, PLASTIC RECYCLING AND OUR SUSTAINABILITY COMMITMENT
At SP Group, we already integrated recycling into our production process some time ago. That is why we opt for materials which enable a high recycling rate. We have put everything into being able to manufacture 100%-recyclable films, and we have succeeded.
We also manufacture sustainable packaging and have revolutionised traditional design in the name of environmental protection. In that regard, we have helped bring the following to market:
● Biodegradable packaging: Using natural raw materials such as cellulose or sugars. These films, in turn, can be used to manufacture materials which break down after use and put nutrients back into the environment.
● Recyclable packaging: we produce PET for creating materials with high recycling potential.
● Recycled packaging: we use waste packaging material to produce material for new packaging . The best example, rPET, is made entirely from recycled material.
● Low-carbon packaging: we also investigate how to manufacture more sustainable packaging which generates lower manufacturing emissions or is free from solvents in printing inks.
Our involvement in the sustainable PET tray or RETRAY certification, as well as the ECOSENSE certification, is just one more step towards achieving responsible, sustainable plastic manufacturing in which the circular economy is the norm.
We will keep you up to date with this important project and any developments, and the future commitments that we are sure to make as we search for environmental solutions.