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High-speed sorting ‘key’ to profitable PP recycling

United Kingdom – Finding an economically viable high-speed automatic sorting method would be ‘the key to make the process of recycling polypropylene commercially attractive’, according to a study commissioned by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a UK non-profit organisation which focuses on reducing waste and promoting sustainability.

The study, conducted by recycling consultant Nextek in collaboration with the plastics industry, looks at how to recycle, process and decontaminate post-consumer polypropylene food packaging. The researchers ran tests to determine whether the material would meet EU food-compliance regulations and its suitability for turning into new packaging, while also examining the economics of the whole process.

Food packaging made from recycled post-consumer polypropylene is possible but its uses are limited by technical barriers; one of them is manual sorting, currently the only way to ensure that the post-consumer material meets EU regulations.

WRAP is researching ways in which polypropylene packaging could be automatically sorted into food and non-food categories. Also, it will investigate problems that could be caused by in-mould labels or direct printing inks.

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