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New Zealand’s Flight towards closed-loop ‘Holy Grail’

New Zealand – Plastics packaging producer Flight Plastics has opened the doors to a facility which is said to be the first in New Zealand to manufacture food-grade PET packaging from recycled PET (rPET) flake.

‘The new plant in Lower Hutt supports New Zealand’s domestic and export economy, enabling food producers to buy, for the first time, packaging made locally from imported recycled PET flakes,’ says Flight Plastics director Derek Lander. ‘Being able to manufacture rPET plastic products right here at the exact size and volume required means we can respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demands.’

According to Lander, New Zealanders consume approximately 17 000 tonnes of PET per year, much of it used for food and beverage packaging. Research indicates that 87% of New Zealanders want their packaging to be recyclable and to contain recycled materials where possible. ‘That’s been our experience in the UK too – where the majority of what we produce at our plant in Hampshire now uses recycled PET flakes,’ Lander observes.

The ‘logical next step’ is to expand the Lower Hutt plant to produce the rPET flakes from PET drinks containers and food packaging collected at the kerbside in New Zealand. ‘We are currently looking at the economics of installing a wash plant to do this,’ Lander notes.

Shows ‘real foresight’

Mike Sammons, sustainability manager for New Zealand’s largest retail organisation Foodstuffs NZ, attended the launch of the new plant and said Flight’s investment ‘shows real foresight’, giving New Zealand’s retailers a real choice in the packaging they choose to use. ‘It’s long-awaited, very exciting and the first step towards the Holy Grail of closed-loop recycling in New Zealand,’ he stated.

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