The link that is missing in that system………

The incorporation of recycled plastic, also known as post-consumer resin (PCR), into products is one of the most effective ways of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with production. For example, adding 30% PCR in PET packaging is carried out.

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The link that is missing in that system……….

In order to make the plastics value chain truly circular, it’s crucial that the industry is able to measure the level of recycled content in packs accurately and efficiently. Researchers from Manchester University in the UK are currently developing a technology that uses tracking molecules for identifying, quantifying, and validating recycled content in plastics and plastic packaging. Pollution resulting from plastic mismanagement is a major threat to our planet’s natural environments and way of A smaller fraction of recycled plastic sits within closed-loop frameworks for conversion back to use for similar-quality applications.

The incorporation of recycled plastic, also known as post-consumer resin (PCR), into products is one of the most effective ways of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with production. For example, adding 30% PCR in PET packaging is carried out.

Also Read: India Pledges to Better Plastic Recycling Infra @2nd WeCare Regional Conference

In response to rising environmental and socioeconomic pressures, governing bodies in the EU and UK are setting targets through new legislation to promote increase recycling. The earliest of these comes in April this year when the UK will introduce a tax (£200 / tonne) on plastic packaging that incorporates less than 30% PCR content.

A similar EU Plastic Packaging Levy will come into force soon, at an even steeper cost (€800/tonne). At present there is a distinct lack of reliable analytical approaches to verify recycled content of plastic products and waste, meaning these ambitious legislations largely rely on honesty in product formulations that have a longstanding lack of transparency. We’re concerned this will lead to greenwashing and, at worst, fraud.

The ‘mass balance’ approach has historically been used to track movement of recyclate feedstocks in and out of production facilities and across supply chains and remains by far the most common method. Mass balance is an indirect method to track volumes through the production system, rather than a quantitative means of measuring PCR content in a specific item of packaging.

There is considerable dissatisfaction with the mass balance approach for plastics by many in the industry and in government. This is because, while it may show that a company has acquired or produced and used certified amounts of recycled materials, it does not show how (or even if) the recyclate is used. Mass balance is also very onerous, is paperwork heavy and financially taxing, and requires significant effort at each step in a supply chain.

The link that is missing in that system……….Alternative methods proposed for PCR content quantification are inconsistent when you try to apply them to different plastic types or processing histories. Plastic polymer characteristics before and after recycling are heavily influenced by processing conditions (e.g. temperature) and the additives used to mitigate property loss. Reliable comparisons of pre-and post-recycled polymer MWs would require standardization of polymer feedstock, processing conditions, additive formulations and equipment across the industry. However, with a packaging sector dominated by trade-secret recipes and little transparency, the standardization of (re)processing remains impractical, and a process-independent PCR quantification method is needed.

Innovation makes use of a molecule (ReCon2 ) that exhibits a unique fluorescent response when placed under UV light. It is easily added in minute concentrations into a plastic recyclate stream during compounding.

When this recyclate is blended with virgin plastic we can rapidly measure a change in the molecular nature during this dilution, giving us a quantifiable analytical measure from 10-100% of recycled content. It has now been demonstrated at lab scale the ability to quantitatively determine the recycled content of marked batches of three of the most widely used packaging plastics (HDPE, PP, and PET), together encompassing 40% of total EU plastic use.

ReCon2 is suitable for application in industrial recycling facilities because its fluorescence signal is independent of plastic processing conditions, sample size, is unaffected by additives and pigments and negligibly impacts the thermo-mechanical properties of the marked plastics. ReCon2 has already been assessed as safe by the FDA and REACH and has been used in food contact applications.

Developing a robust technology that avoids laborious effort and cost will encourage compliance over fraud and help rebuild public and corporate trust in recycling.

The biggest non-technical tests of the resilience over the past 12 months have been caused by the ongoing restrictions associated with the pandemic which were compounded by recent relocation to the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub, situated within the Henry Royce building at the University of Manchester.

This can then also be used to report on the plastic packaging tax. The market and potential for growth of this technology is massive if things continue to progress; the EU used approx. 20 million tonnes of plastic packaging in 2022

(Ref= Packaging Europe.)


By,

DR SAMEER JOSHI
sameer joshi

SHARANG AMBADKAR
SHARANG AMBADKAR


 

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The link that is missing in that system……….
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The incorporation of recycled plastic, also known as post-consumer resin (PCR), into products is one of the most effective ways of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with production. For example, adding 30% PCR in PET packaging is carried out.
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THE POLICY TIMES
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