To materialize its philosophy that rPET supply is better suited to multiple, smaller, processing operations vs. one or two large capacity plants, Phoenix Technologies reengineered its modular rPET system to enable cost-effective self-manufacture. The result is a relatively small PET recycling plant for food grade rPET resins.
They believe, and I fully agree with them, in a local ‘consume, collect, convert’ approach. By locating rPET production in closer proximity to resin users, you improve supply times and reduce the carbon footprint, Phoenix states. I can add that particularly for large countries, as Brazil, China, South Africa, this statement and consequently Phoenix’ development is of utmost importance.
Phoenix Technologies, a long-time producer of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), has launched a small-capacity version of its proprietary compact, modular equipment available for those interested in self-manufacture, i.e. bottlers which want to go ‘green’, but are located far away from the mainstream suppliers for rPET resins and which face the mountain of discarded PET-bottles at their doorstep, i.e. the landfill in their proximity.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a clear polymer that is used to manufacture strong, lightweight containers for everything from water, juice and soft drink bottles to items found in most households like salad dressing, dish detergent and shampoo. Not only is it 100% recyclable, but because of its properties and durability, it can be recycled over and over again. This recycled PET, or “rPET” as it is known, requires less energy to manufacture than virgin PET, reducing the carbon footprint associated with traditional packaging manufacturing.
The new system is based on Phoenix Technologies’ patented technology which has been in use since 2000 for the commercial production of food grade LNO rPET. The LNO process relies on Phoenix’s “extremely small particle size” technology. The tiny particle size enables much more efficient decontamination compared to other processes, resulting in faster output and significant energy savings.
The resin has received letters of no objection at up to 100% use from the US Food & Drug Administration as well as Canada Health.
LNO technology produces rPET with superior colour and yield as compared to other methods. Further, it has lower acetaldehyde levels which positively impact taste properties. Another benefit is its higher intrinsic viscosity (IV) or molecular weight which more closely matches the IV found in virgin resins. This enables higher package performance.
According to the company, the resin is ideal for a variety of food and beverage applications including water, carbonated soft drinks, juices, fruit, baked goods, meats and cheeses. Package types include blow moulded, thermoformed and injection moulded applications such as bottles, drinking cups, deli containers, etc.
In keeping with its strong environmental positioning, the unit uses virtually no water and only 2.3 million kilowatts hours (kwh) of electricity annually, vs. the 5 million kwh needed to run larger-capacity equipment. The modular design also can easily address growing capacity requirements by adding 4 million pound units to the base equipment.
The cost of entry for the new, small capacity system (4 million pounds of rPET annually) can be as low as USD 1 million. With a footprint of 1,000 square feet (approx. 100 m2), the unit is also significantly smaller than any other commercially-available rPET production equipment and can be built in a record-setting 160 days.
“For years, Phoenix Technologies has sold this proven rPET resin to brand owners. What we’ve done now, is taken that large scale production unit and significantly reduce its physical footprint, capacity and price to enable self-manufacture. No other company is offering a unit with entry-level production capability. We believe this provides an affordable option for those that have found self-manufacture to be cost-prohibitive up until now”, Robert Deardurff, president of Phoenix Technologies stated.
And he continues: “We think the reengineered system will be particularly attractive to brand owners who self-manufacture PET containers and who want to support a positive environmental profile. Self manufacture of rPET contributes positively to the carbon footprint and helps minimize time and labour costs”.
Without doubt it can be seen as an ideal solution for recycling plants, retailers, bottlers and municipalities, which were previously blocked by capital investment, space and labour.