Pact Group receive New Zealand Government funding to transition to 100% recycled rPET in its food packaging range

15 July 2019

Executive General Manager Pact Group Eric Kjestrup said “We are thankful for the support we have received from the Waste Minimisation Fund as it will enable Pact Group to produce an extensive range of 100% rPET food grade packaging products, including meat trays, bakery trays, deli containers, food containers, produce containers and beverage bottles”.

The existing infrastructure for recycling New Zealand’s most widely used plastic polymers, PET, processes it into recycled PET (rPET) flake, this flake is not food contact approved it must be sandwiched between layers of virgin material. This effectively means packaging can only comprise a proportion of recycled content.

“This funding will contribute to Pact’s investment in state-of-the-art infrastructure that will thoroughly decontaminate the rPET flakes into material that can be used in the production of 100% recycled, food-contact approved packaging.

“Across the food and beverage sector, there is an increasing shift away from materials that have limited or no options for recycling, such as polystyrene, and coloured PET. Investing in this infrastructure with the help of the WMF will provide our customers with a recycled substitute to the current virgin PET range with the same level of functionality,” said Kjestrup.

The new plant will be operated by Pact and located in Auckland. When full capacity is reached the site will have the ability to process about 10,000 tonnes of rPET every year which will reduce the requirements for virgin PET, as well as off-setting the utilisation of other materials that are typically only disposed into landfill.

To date, packaging made from Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for example soft drink bottles and meat trays are currently collected via kerbside recycling and other than small volumes in Wellington, the majority is baled and sold offshore.

This new capability means that Pact will have the ability to substitute all imported virgin resin with 100% rPET food-contact approved packaging, enhancing the circular economy.

“We are absolutely delighted to have received this funding and would like to thank the NZ Government. their support is enabling Pact to continue to invest in sustainability infrastructure and offers a domestic solution to the conversion of recycled resin to food packaging,” says Kjestrup.

Pact is currently the largest converter and processor of pre and post-industrial consumer recycled resin in the Southern Hemisphere, converting over 30 000 tonnes of resin which may otherwise end up in landfill.

This investment supports Pact Groups 2025 End of Waste Strategy that was launched in 2018 that encompass three aspirational targets:

• By 2025 Pact Group will eliminate all non-recyclable packaging that it produces.
• By 2025 Pact Group will have solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle all single use secondary packaging in supermarkets.
• By 2025 Pact Group will offer 30 per cent recycled content across its packaging portfolio.

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