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Waste Transfer Notes
Recycling Plastic Pouches

Successful Pilot Scheme for Flexible Plastic Packaging 

The Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) consortiumrecently published a report showing that their flexible plastic packaging recycling pilot in Pennsylvania USA was successful.

The goal of the pilot scheme was to find out whether flexible plastic packaging (FPP) collected loose in residential single-stream carts could be sorted into a commodity bale for reprocessing into recycled-content products. Flexible plastic packaging includes single resin and multilayer bags, pouches, and wraps.

In the United States, FPP is the fastest growing plastic packaging category, with 12 billion pounds consumed annually, according to the consortium.

For the pilot, the TotalRecycle facility was upgraded with an FPP recovery system that uses optical sorters as well as the kind of peripheral equipment that is increasingly being utilized for automated sorting, the consortium explained.

The pilot had five performance goals:

• Capture at least 90% of FPP in feedstock.

• Minimize paper in FPP product (less than 15% by weight).

• Reduce the amount of FPP going into fiber products, even with increased FPP in feedstock.

• Reduce the fiber quality control staff requirement by a minimum of 25%.

• Integrate controls with the existing material recovery facility control system.

All of the goals were met except for the capture rate. MRFF reported a 74% capture rate in February 2020 testing, and said that additional equipment tuning and minor upgrades were in process at the facility.

Sina Hilbert, brand manager and sustainability lead for Gerber, said: “This early success means we’re one step closer to a future where all baby food pouches can be recycled curbside,” she said. “This also gets us one step closer to our goal of making 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.”


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