US recycling company rPlanet Earth has launched what it says is the first plant in the world to convert packaging waste into finished rPET products with properties comparable to those of virgin PET.
The new 302 000 sq ft facility in Vernon, California, takes in bottles, clamshell containers and other packaging waste from kerbside collection. It has an annual capacity of 36 000 tonnes.
Material undergoes extensive sorting and cleaning procedures, grinding the plastic into flakes and washing and decontaminating the scrap input. This raises the intrinsic viscosity of the material in accordance with end-use requirements. The result is food-grade sheet, thermoformed containers and injection moulded preforms for bottles.
More than US$ 100 million (EUR 89 million) has been invested in the venture to date and, according to rPlanet Earth ceo Robert Daviduk, a second production line is planned within the next two years.
Three more plants
‘The utilities and other infrastructure are already in place to support a new line that can have a capacity 50% larger than that of our existing line,’ Daviduk says. ‘Our company has plans to build three or more new plants at sites elsewhere in the US, and possibly in other countries,’ he adds.
The carbon footprint of rPlanet Earth is said to be 60% less than that of packaging made from virgin resin and 20% less than that for rPET products from other companies. The facility uses 90% less water than a PET resin plant in generating the same output.
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