Grant agreement ID: 945906
Status Ongoing project
Start date 1 March 2020
End date 28 February 2022
Overall budget € 1 810 437,50
EU contribution € 1 241 056,25
Attaining full recyclability of plastic food trays
Used in plastic food trays, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most recycled plastic packaging material in Europe. However almost 50% is landfilled or incinerated. The problem is that PET is commonly combined with other chemicals, like ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH), to create multilayer PET/EVOH plastic sheets. The good news is that these offer an efficient barrier to oxygen penetration. The bad news is that the EVOH layer renders plastic food trays unrecyclable. Since PET/EVOH trays cannot be sorted from fully recyclable PET trays (those not containing EVOH), all food trays are discarded rather than recycled. The EU-funded FRA-PET project is developing an additive proprietary chemical formulation to produce a fully recyclable PET barrier package for food preservation, without EVOH. With this new chemical formulation, recycling of these items can be increased to 100%.
Each year, over 381 million tons of plastic waste are produced worldwide – equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population. Around 13 million tons of this plastics end up in the oceans, causing serious threat to the environment and global health, with the result of an economic burden of €7 billion per year globally. This global emergency calls for new solutions to increase plastic recycling rate. About 14% of the global plastic waste is represented by food packaging. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is the most common plastic resin used in the food packaging industry. To increase food shelf life, PET is commonly combined with other chemicals, such as EVOH, to create multilayer PET/EVOH plastic sheets that offer an efficient barrier to oxygen penetration to the plastic food tray. While representing a need for food quality preservation, the presence of an EVOH layer makes food plastic trays not recyclable. Unfortunately, since PET/EVOH trays cannot be sorted from fully recyclable PET trays (i.e., those not containing EVOH), they cause all the food trays to be discarded rather than recycled – accounting for 1.1 million of tons of PET trays either incinerated or landfilled each year only in Europe.
Point Plastic offers FRA-PET, a game-changing additive to produce fully recyclable PET barrier package for food preservation. Thanks to additive proprietary chemical formulation, FRA-PET food trays provide the highest efficiency oxygen barrier and best performance in food quality preservation without requiring EVOH use. FRA-PET enables to increase the current recycling of plastic barrier food trays from 0% to 100%, sustaining the circular economy of plastic. FRA-PET has the potential to become the new gold standard for PET packaging.
The key objectives of the project are to optimize the FRA-PET chemical formulation, validate FRA-PET trays performance through a pilot study with two food manufacturers, and obtain certifications for commercialization in Europe.