Alternative material, Sustainability

Fair plastic from Indonesia proves successful in initial tests

01/06/2021 | 2 min read
Florian Aschermayer

Greiner Packaging has already been focusing for some time on using fair plastic for its sustainable plastic packaging solutions. The company now has a dedicated team that is working on new, innovative possibilities and material streams, including r-PET from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Fair plastic is based on the idea of cleaning up plastic waste in coastal regions around the world while also ensuring reliable material streams – an approach that is just as simple as it is socially responsible. Organizations like the company’s partner Plastic Bank® initiate and coordinate collection processes for the plastic waste as well as methods of sorting and processing it before it is transported for further processing into new plastic products at producers such as Greiner Packaging. This boosts awareness of the value plastic has to offer and guarantees a secure income for the local collectors while also advancing efforts to produce sustainable packaging with a better carbon footprint. A variety of recycled materials made of fair plastic are already available now. They include r-PET with approval for food contact and r-PP, as well as r-HDPE for nonfood packaging, such as that used for cleaning agents or household chemicals.

The benefits for customers are clear to see – specifically, from the system. Besides offering a better carbon footprint than fossil-based raw materials, key benefits of recycled material include the ability to prevent waste and use refuse as a valuable resource. But these efforts also focus on social aspects in local regions and making a meaningful contribution to a global circular economy. After all, customers today are looking for packaging solutions that are sustainable and innovative in equal measure – and the former is contingent on the latter. r-PET in particular has been shown to have a good track record as a material – not only due to its high availability and the collection infrastructure in place, but also because it boasts a carbon footprint that is nearly 50 percent smaller than that of virgin PET goods. In terms of emissions, the fact that it is transported from Southeast Asia has very little impact, and the environmental advantages r-PET offers in comparison to PET from crude oil remain largely unchanged.

Initial tests and customer projects with fair plastic getting off the ground

As part of a test project, Greiner Packaging has now processed r-PET from Indonesia to produce 50-milliliter bottles made of up to 100 percent fair plastic. Together with customer ADA Cosmetics, the company is now creating a 50-milliliter bottle that contains 50 percent fair plastic. 

For over 40 years, ADA Cosmetics has been setting standards by developing and producing high-quality care products for the hotel industry, and the company has been a sustainability pioneer for many years. ADA is pursuing this goal from every possible angle, including making sparing use of renewable resources, ensuring energy efficient and low-emission production, and delivering environmentally friendly packaging solutions. The manufacturer gives priority to eco-friendly, recyclable plastic in the production of its mini single-use bottles and dispenser systems. And it works on an ongoing basis to increase the amount of recycled material in these products.

The company knows that the bottles made of 50 percent fair plastic offer great potential and is confident that they offer added value in terms of sustainability. It plans to include this solution in its product portfolio in the future – and step up its efforts to boost sustainability in the hotel industry in the process.

Recycling PET bottles is state of the art in Europe these days. Even though they are perceived as waste, these bottles are in demand as a raw material. Unfortunately, however, this is not often the case in developing countries. PET bottles often end up in the ocean, especially in coastal regions with no or insufficient waste management infrastructure. Oftentimes, there are no local markets for the collected material either. At Greiner Packaging, we not only support initiatives that create this waste management infrastructure by getting the local population involved, but we also do our part by creating demand for the recycled material together with our customers.

Florian Aschermayer, circular economy project manager at Greiner Packaging

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