Written by Kathy Wilkinson @wilkinsonprltd  #wilkinsonprltd

New developments in marker technologies for sorting plastic packaging should not be viewed as ‘the answer’ to increasing recycling rates, however they could be valuable in other ways leading to higher quality and value in recycling, suggests Axion Consulting.

Waste plastic packaging

Waste plastic packaging

While methods to detect different polymer types, such as fluorescent pigments and digital watermarks, offer exciting potential they should be seen as a way to safeguard recyclate quality, asserts Richard McKinlay, Head of Engineering & Research at the resource recovery specialist.

Meanwhile, existing Near Infrared (NIR) technology still has much ‘unexploited potential’ in recovering more packaging such as polypropylene (PP) from rigid plastics, polyethylene (PE) and PP films, which would go a long way to increasing recycling rates, he suggests.

Diversification in the plastics packaging market is leaving the established infrastructure behind. NIR technology detects polymer type, which for many years was sufficient to recover high quality PET, HDPE, LDPE film and PP, but this is changing.

Innovation in packaging has led to a more complex waste stream that contains many different components. For example, a shift for UHT milk from recyclable HDPE bottles into opaque PET containers has a negative effect on recycling. The growing use of PET in non-food products can lead to challenges when using recycled PET in new food packaging.

“This shift has brought forward the need for an alternative to NIR that can sort material on more criteria, to protect existing recycling processes and drive up quality to access higher value markets,” says Richard.

Several projects, bringing together companies throughout the supply chain, are currently researching marker techniques that provide detailed information on what packaging can and cannot be recycled. Two methods of marking being developed are fluorescent pigments and digital watermarks.

Invisible in normal lighting conditions, fluorescent pigments can be detected under ultraviolet light. Specially chosen for optimum performance while minimising cost, they are safe for food contact applications.

Digital watermarks are patterns that can be applied in label or packaging design, or directly to the polymer surface. Having minimal visual impact, they can be detected by a camera and created at very low cost. Each marker can hold a large amount of data, such as material composition, original contents and suitability for recycling.

The development of fluorescent pigments is significantly further ahead than digital watermarking, with some European projects, such as the Polymark project, already completed and others close to completion.

“There is, therefore a better understanding of efficacy of fluorescent pigments. There are still many unknowns about watermarking and more independent studies are needed,” continues Richard. “Watermarking could be a powerful tool in the future because of how much data it can hold and brand owners can gauge how much of their packaging is recycled.”

For example, the same watermark can be used by manufacturers during production, and by consumers to give product information such as nutrition or recipes. You could even develop a ‘smart bin’ where you show the bin the packaging and it tells you if it can be recycled or not. Finally, the watermark is used by the recycler to know where to sort the material to for maximum value recovery.

This ability to share data across the value chain may be very powerful. However, it is only part of the solution, and packaging must be fundamentally recyclable in an economic way, and so compromises should not be made because of the ability to sort the different materials.

While markers offer a useful way to detect differences between food and non-food packaging, such as PET drinks bottles and PET detergent bottles, Richard warns that taking this route could lead to manufacturers using packaging that has less value at end of life in the future. For example, using more PET in non-food applications and reducing the subsequent quality of recyclable material.

He concludes: “To me, although this type of technology may be a very powerful tool for information gathering, it is not an answer to increasing recycling rates. In my opinion, this marker technology should be seen as a way to safeguard quality of materials for recycling. In terms of increasing recycling rates, I think it is unlikely it will have any significant impact.

“The only way to increase recycling rates is to do more sorting on more of the plastic fractions that are currently going to energy recovery because it’s not economically viable to recover them. In order for this to happen, a fundamental change in the economic drivers for recycling is needed.”

Axion Consulting is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients, from Government agencies and local authorities to companies in diverse commercial sectors, on the practical development of new processing and collection methods to recover value from waste resources.

For more information, contact Axion Consulting on 0161 426 7731 or visit the website – www.axionconsulting.co.uk.

 

 

Written by Kathy Wilkinson @wilkinsonprltd  #wilkinsonprltd

S Norton & Co Ltd has invested more than £10 million in plant, cranage and associated site works to increase efficiency and capacity at its Barking site in London.

New shear machine at S Norton & Co's London site

New shear machine at S Norton & Co’s London site

One of the UK’s prominent metals recyclers, the family-owned firm has installed a Henschel 1250 pre-compression shear machine at its five-acre export facility in River Road.

With a capacity of 40 tonnes per hour the machine is an addition to the site, which was acquired by S Norton & Co in 2013. Installed at the end of 2016, the machine is now in full production and boosts the yard’s heavy duty scrap processing capacity by 50%.

Site Manager at Barking, Micky Duke said: “Our aim is to increase the tonnages through London whilst enabling a quicker turnaround for customer vehicles. This machine with its high pre-compression can create denser material enabling us to maximise cargo stowage for shipping.”

Processed scrap is shipped to various European destinations or sent to S Norton’s sister deep-water facility at Southampton for export worldwide.

Up to four extra staff will also be recruited to accommodate the new shearing operation as well as the site’s health & safety, environment and maintenance programmes.

S Norton & Co Technical Director Matt Norton commented: “The new Henschel shear machine is a key addition to our Barking site and will make the whole operation more efficient. This large investment in the site also covers some environmental improvements, including firefighting facilities and equipment.”

Consistent investment by S Norton & Co, a family-owned business since the 1960s, has enabled it to stay at the forefront of metal processing throughout the UK.

Other recent investment includes enhanced handling equipment at both its Liverpool and Southampton sites, while continuous processing improvements are maintaining the high quality of finished metallic and non-metallic products for both domestic and overseas customers.

For more information on the company visit the website at www.s-norton.com.

 

Written by Kathy Wilkinson @wilkinsonprltd  #wilkinsonprltd

The PVC industry is making real progress towards sustainability and a positive contribution to the circular economy through a united industry approach, delegates heard at the 5th VinylPlus Sustainability Forum 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

VinylPlus General Manager Brigitte Dero

VinylPlus General Manager Brigitte Dero

Organised by VinylPlus, the European PVC industry sustainability programme, this year’s forum held on May 10th and 11th took the theme of ‘Towards Circular Economy’ and explored the many growing opportunities for the PVC sector to contribute to this key objective of EU policy.

Against a backdrop of important decisions being taken on the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, presentations and panel discussions from high-level speakers focussed on how the vinyl industry is tackling key sustainability issues, such as legacy additives in recycled PVC, and contributing to a stronger circular flow of resources.

The forum attracted more than 170 stakeholders from 30 countries representing academia, government bodies, the UN, the European Commission, specifiers, designers, architects and all sectors of the PVC industry.

Welcoming delegates, VinylPlus Chairman Josef Ertl said: “The debate about how Europe can make the transition to a circular economy is placed high on the political agenda. I’m sure, most people will agree, that a sustainable society without a circular economy is difficult to imagine. And the unique characteristics of plastics allow them to make a strong contribution to a more environmentally sustainable and resource efficient Europe. PVC is clearly contributing to this; and certainly VinylPlus with its unique co-operation model, bringing together the whole PVC value chain, is the right platform for sustainability and circularity in the PVC industry.”

Acknowledging that a move from a predominantly linear to a largely circular economic system would ‘dramatically change’ how companies and value chains co-operate and the way we produce and consume goods, Josef Ertl said: “In this context, we must ensure that the entire life cycle of a product is considered, not just aspects at the end of the life cycle.”

He called on political leaders to work closely with the PVC industry to analyse the potential impacts of any decisions that might affect the PVC sector, adding: “They should ensure that the process is developing smoothly without too many frictions. We in the PVC and plastics industry will support such an approach.”

Michael Kundel, President of the European Plastics Converters (EuPC) stated that a clear way forward on how to handle end of life PVC is ‘urgently required’ if its further potential is to be exploited in the future. He called on the PVC industry and political decision-makers to ‘co-operate fully and establish a framework that meets the needs of a low carbon economy’.

He added: “The VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment has set a framework and can serve as a roadmap on how to create a more sustainable future with plastic materials along the value chain. Being the successful pioneer, VinylPlus might well serve as a role model for other plastics too.”

In his update on the Agenda 2030 and the Circular Economy, Christophe Yvetot, UNIDO Representative to the European Union United Nations Industrial Development Organization, outlined PVC’s contribution to the ‘less is more’ vision through its greater durability, longevity and recyclability in materials used in future urban developments.

Presenting the 2016 results, VinylPlus General Manager Brigitte Dero highlighted the achievements of a ‘united PVC value chain’ within the VinylPlus framework, which included the recycling of 568,696 tonnes of PVC last year. A cumulative total of more than 3.5 million tonnes of PVC has been recycled since 2000 thanks to the efforts of VinylPlus.

Progress on additives includes the development of the Additives Sustainability Footprint (ASF), a science-based methodology for assessing the sustainable use of additives in PVC products. The first ASF will be completed for window profiles this year, followed by flexible applications.

Brigitte stated: “Through the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment, we can provide solutions to issues raised in the EU discussion on Plastics Strategy. In 2016, we made real progress towards our sustainability goals in terms of the safety and quality of recycled PVC, alongside recognition by external stakeholders that VinylPlus is considered by many as a frontrunner for the circular economy. You can find out more in our Progress Report 2017.”

Discussion also centred on Circular Economy policies, both regionally and Europe-wide and their potential impact on the plastics industry as a whole. Dr ir Werner Bosmans, EU Commission, DG Environment, updated delegates on the EU Strategy on Plastics in a Circular Economy. Cees Luttikhuizen, Senior Policy Advisor at The Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment evaluated the impact of REACH policies for waste and the circular economy.

Two keynote speeches from Norbert Kurilla, State Secretary at the Slovak Ministry of Environment and Dr Alexander Janz from the German Federal Ministry for Environment highlighted best practice and developments towards a circular economy in their respective countries.

Dr Janz said: “The many possible uses of plastics have made them an integral part of our daily lives. It is precisely for that reason that, now more than ever, we have to strengthen the sustainable management of plastics along the entire value chain and in doing so reduce negative effects on the environment and human health.”

Reflecting on the Forum, Josef Ertl concluded: “Innovation is the main driver which creates ways to reduce emissions and consumption of raw materials and resources. It improves energy and cost efficiency, it increases products’ useful lives. It will create a lot of new ways to improve recycling. Through the VinylPlus Voluntary Commitment, with the entire value chain, we contribute to overcoming the challenges faced in a circular economy.”

VinylPlus is the Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry. The programme establishes a long-term framework for the sustainable development of the PVC industry by tackling a number of critical challenges in the EU-28, Norway and Switzerland.

More information on the 2017 Forum can be found at http://vinylplus.eu/community/vinyl-sustainability-forum/vsf-2017. More information on the Progress Report 2017 can be found at http://www.vinylplus.eu/documents//57

 

Written by Kathy Wilkinson @wilkinsonprltd  #wilkinsonprltd

More carpet waste in the UK was diverted from landfill in 2016 with 142,000 tonnes that were reused, recycled or recovered for energy, according to latest Carpet Recycling UK figures.

Carpet Recycling UK core funders

Carpet Recycling UK core funders

This 14% increase on 2015 (125,000 tonnes) represents a diversion rate of 35% – up from just 2% in 9 years. Around 400,000 tonnes of waste carpet arise each year in the UK.

Energy recovery increased by 35% compared to 2015 as the use of carpets as a renewable fuel source in cement kilns continues to replace fossil fuels in this growing sector. A 50% increase in capacity for municipal energy-from-waste facilities over the past two years has also contributed to greater use of carpet waste in renewable electricity and energy generation.

Commenting on their latest achievements, CRUK Director Laurance Bird acknowledged ‘outstanding support’ from core funders and members who want to ‘make their businesses more sustainable’. CRUK’s core funders are Cormar Carpets, Lifestyle Floors/Headlam, Desso, ege, Milliken, Balsan and Marlings.

Laurance commented: “These core funders lead the industry in demonstrating extended producer responsibility for carpet throughout its lifecycle. Thanks to their commitment and support, we are continuing to advance sustainability within this sector and drive growth in recycling capacity.”

Interest in recycling carpets is strong, he revealed, with more than 500 enquiries handled by the CRUK team in 2016; reflecting greater awareness generally that carpet can avoid being landfilled.

Carpets are made from natural and synthetic fibres, which still have a value once the carpet is no longer wanted; they can be used in a wide range of applications from sports surfaces to insulation.

CRUK’s membership has also reached a record high with 97 members from across the carpet recycling supply chain, including manufacturers, raw material suppliers, recyclers, retailers and machine manufacturers.

“Particularly, growth in membership has been stimulated by increased interest from retailers and flooring contractors to recycle their carpet waste and reduce their disposal costs compared to landfill. They have also used their achievements and CRUK membership to promote business sustainability activities to their customers,” continued Laurance.

Entrepreneurial investment and innovation in recycling carpets continues with several firms developing processes to recover valuable fibres, such as polypropylene and wool. These fibres can be recycled into various new products, including equestrian surfaces, textile felts and plastics. In 2016, CRUK member Anglo Recycling launched their Growfelt range of horticultural growing media and Emerald Trading, also a CRUK member, introduced their Fibre It equestrian surface products.

Laurance added: “Increasingly, businesses, householders and local authorities are looking for better alternatives for the recycling of unwanted carpet materials. We are proud of our achievements and appreciate the wide-ranging support that is helping to ensure the growing demand for carpet recycling services is met.”

CRUK will be recognising its members’ innovations, successes and sharing information on latest developments and recycling technologies at its 2017 Annual Conference and Awards event to be held on Wednesday June 21st at Aston Villa Football Club in Birmingham.

To register your interest as a speaker, exhibitor or delegate, please contact marie@carpetrecyclinguk.com. For more information, call 0161 440 8325 or visit www.carpetrecyclinguk.com.

 
Jason Donnelly (left) and Will Reader

Jason Donnelly (left) and Will Reader

Written by Kathy Wilkinson @wilkinsonprltd  #wilkinsonprltd

Phoenix Doors, part of MASCO UK Window Group, has strengthened its customer services team with two key appointments reflecting changes that are needed in the way the fast-growing composite door and PVC-U door panel manufacturer looks after its customers.

Jason Donnelly has been appointed Customer Service Office Manager, while Will Reader has rejoined the company in a new proactive client-facing role as Customer Experience Manager.

In his new position, Jason brings extensive Network Rail management experience to leading a small team responsible for both internal and external customer relationships. He comments: “I’m enjoying a fresh challenge in a new industry and looking forward to helping deliver an excellent service throughout to all our customers.”

A major part of Will’s new role will involve discussing issues and meeting with customers, many of whom he knows already from his previous sales office experience at Phoenix.

Commenting on the appointments, Haydon Statham, Sales Director says: “As Phoenix Doors continues to grow, we are changing the way we care for our customers and respond to their needs in line with the Group’s philosophy. Both Jason and Will bring considerable knowledge, experience and skills to drive and implement change and improvements in customer service.”

For more information, please call Phoenix Doors on 01487 740469, email info@phoenixdoorpanels.co.uk or visit the website at www.phoenixdoorpanels.co.uk.

 

Axion Polymers has launched a new range of strong and durable 100% recycled ABS grades suitable for a range of injection moulding applications – particularly in the fenestration, construction and automotive sectors – offering both cost and carbon savings.

Axion Polymers ABS grades testing

Axion Polymers ABS grades testing

Recovered from the non-metallic waste fraction from end-of-life vehicles, the Axpoly® r-ABS resins deliver a carbon footprint saving of two-thirds when compared with virgin ABS made from petrochemical feedstocks.

A full LCA study of Axion’s mechanical recycling process shows a saving of 2.1 tonne CO2 eq. for every tonne of ABS they produce. That is equal to the CO2 impact of driving a 44-tonne articulated road haulage vehicle 1,400 miles.

An additional advantage of using recycled polymers from a UK-sourced closed-loop supply chain is stable and competitive pricing because the input raw material costs are not linked to the volatile oil market. Axion Director Keith Freegard observes that some of their competitors are increasing prices due to post-Brexit exchange rate changes.

He states: “Anyone purchasing polymer from central Europe will be facing around a 15% price increase. Manufactured from feedstocks collected in Britain, our polymers are not affected by exchange rate changes. What better time than now to buy British!”

Axion Polymers high-quality 100% recycled Axpoly® plastics are mechanically separated at its Shredder Waste Advanced Processing Plant (SWAPP) in Manchester and then further refined at the Salford polymer compounding site. All production batches are traceable back to the origin of the raw material as part of an integrated, closed-loop, automotive materials resource recovery system.

“Their traceability enables manufacturers to enhance the green credentials of products, such as building products or automotive components, and produce them at a lower cost than using virgin polymers,” says Product Development Technologist Mark Keenan. “Our new r-ABS polymers are ideal for compression load applications and have recently been used to mould load plates for reinforced steel beams as well as strengtheners in the corners of windows.”

Chemical Engineer Dr Pasika Chongcharoentaweesuk adds: “We carried out a ‘bench-marking’ exercise to compare the physical properties of Axpoly r-ABS with competitive products and also with hand-sorted ABS pieces recycled from flat-panel TV displays. The results prove that our advanced recycling processes can deliver a finished product with properties that match the equivalent products in the market and a purity that is as good as laborious hand-sorting operations.”

The properties of the standard recycled ABS grade Axpoly® r-ABS52 1009 can be modified to suit a customer’s individual application using the compounding capability and fully equipped materials testing laboratory at Axion’s factory site.

Axion Polymers has been awarded Silver status under global supplier assessment system EcoVadis, set up to evaluate companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings with the aim of improving their environmental and social practices.

Axion was assessed on 21 criteria, covering its environmental, fair employment, ethics/fair business practice and supply chain practice performance. The silver status award shows Axion’s long-term commitment to and contribution towards world class CSR performance standards.

Axion Polymers is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients within the recycling and process industries on the practical development of new processing and collection methods.

For more information, contact Axion Polymers on 161 737 6124 or visit the website – www.axionpolymers.com; @axionpolymers.

 

If you received a new smartphone, laptop or tablet for Christmas, a leading charity is offering residents in Greater Manchester a way to clear out their old ones in the New Year.

Old working data-bearing devices can be donated to the British Heart Foundation as part of a trial that will help to raise funds for life-saving research.

Recycling your old working devices for charity

Recycling your old working devices for charity

Devices, such as laptops, smartphones and PCs can be donated at four BHF furniture and electrical stores in Cheetham Hill, Sale, Salford and Harpurhey.

All donated devices will be PAT-tested and any data securely erased using certified software, before being listed for sale on the BHF eBay store. All proceeds will go towards essential funding towards the BHF’s pioneering research and services.

Any devices that can’t be reused will be recycled responsibly by Manchester-based resource recovery specialist Axion Consulting using the latest process technologies at the forefront of material recovery techniques.

“This trial is great news for local residents who can donate old working devices, perhaps those replaced by new Christmas presents, and benefit a good cause too,” comments Nichola Stead, Senior Consultant at Axion Consulting, which is running the scheme.

“It’s also an ideal opportunity to clear out unused equipment – and save money as the data is securely erased free of charge by the BHF,” adds Nichola.

The trial is part of the Critical Raw Materials Recovery project, which is supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, Innovate UK, the Welsh Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and led by WRAP in the UK. The outputs from the trials will inform policy recommendation throughout the EU.

Project partners include the European Recycling Platform (ERP), the European Advanced Recycling Network (EARN), the Wuppertal Institute and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

Germany and Italy are also involved in the three-and-a-half-year sustainability project targeting an increase in recovery of rare metals from products such as consumer electronics, ICT equipment and small household appliances. WRAP research has found that almost 40% of electrical products go to landfill.

Founded in 1961, the British Heart Foundation is the nation’s heart charity and the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research. BHF’s research has helped to transform the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions.

Axion Consulting is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients, from Government agencies and local authorities to companies in diverse commercial sectors, on the practical development of new processing and collection methods to recover value from waste resources.

For more information, contact Axion Consulting on 0161 426 7731 or visit the website – www.axionconsulting.co.uk.

 
A general view of the Pavilion at the Kia Oval

A general view of the Pavilion at the Kia Oval

Written by Kathy Wilkinson @wilkinsonprltd  #wilkinsonprltd

Put a spin on your waste vinyl flooring recycling achievements and celebrate the winners’ runs of success at the cricket-themed 2017 Recofloor Awards Event to be held at London’s world-famous Oval cricket ground on March 29th 2017.

Don’t get caught out – submit your entries online at www.recofloor.org by Friday January 27th 2017 to bat for your company in Polyflor and Altro’s national Take Back scheme.

 

Hosting the sixth annual awards event will be former England cricket captain, Sky Sports commentator and former team captain of the smash hit sports quiz, ‘They Think It’s All Over’, David Gower.

Delegates can expect to be ‘bowled over’ by his career anecdotes before hearing from key flooring industry speakers. The event also offers great opportunities to network, share expert knowledge and learn more about how the scheme can work for them.

Founded in 2009, Recofloor works with the entire supply chain to divert vinyl flooring waste from landfill – an impressive 3,000-plus tonnes to date has been recycled back into new flooring and other products.

David will present trophies and certificates to Recofloor members who have excelled across nine award categories and contributed to rising volumes of vinyl flooring waste being diverted from landfill and reused.

Members can enter any of the following categories; Contractor of the Year, Distributor of the Year, Project of the Year (new category) and Drop-Off Site User of the Year. The other categories are Recofloor Champion, Greatest Improvement, Best Newcomer, Outstanding Achievement and the new Recofloor Brand Ambassador category. Plus there are the Recofloor Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, which all reward members’ commitment, contribution and achievements in 2016.

Calling on members to ‘save the date’, Recofloor Project Coordinator Carla Eslava comments: “Our Annual Awards event is always popular and we’re going all out to make our 2017 one the biggest yet, so I’m hoping the level of entries will ‘bowl this maiden over’!”

Recofloor has 700-plus collectors and more than 60 drop-off sites across the UK and Ireland. Signing up is easy and further information about Recofloor is available from www.recofloor.org.  Contact 0161 355 7618 or email info@recofloor.org.

 
Axion REFLEX project

Axion REFLEX project

The results of significant research to enable further developments towards establishing recycling options for flexible plastic packaging delivered by the two-year REFLEX R&D project were unveiled at the K Show in October 2016.

The project is a collaboration of the whole value chain, from polymer production, packaging manufacturers, global brand owners, to waste management and recycling companies.

Flexible packaging such as plastic bags, confectionery wrappers, frozen food bags and pouches makes up 27% of consumer plastic packaging in the UK, and much of this ends up in landfills or energy recovery.

According to resource recovery specialist Axion Consulting, which led the consortium of various value chain participants, the ability to recycle this type of packaging at end of life will be ‘moving forward’ following successful research and trials.

Axion worked with its partners in the REFLEX project; Amcor Ltd, Dow Chemical Company Ltd, Interflex Group, Nestlé UK Ltd, SUEZ, TOMRA Sorting Ltd and Unilever. The project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. More details can be found on the project at www.reflexproject.co.uk.

The consortium’s research took into account the commercial value of materials recovered by the recycling process and demonstrated that attractive yields of recycled materials could be achieved. The project has addressed many technical challenges in establishing an infrastructure to collect, sort and recycle polyolefinic flexible packaging in the UK. For example, along with improvement of flexible packaging designs, the project looked at digital watermarking on packaging that is suitable for mechanical recycling and the use and enhancement of near infra-red sorting technologies.

“We think that these changes and further technology optimisation can improve the economics of recycling flexible packaging and make the concept more attractive to investors and recyclers,” comments Axion Consulting Senior Engineer Richard McKinlay.

Practical trials have shown that recovered polymers can deliver the performance requirements and technical properties needed for items such as boxes and crates or drainage pipe products. Richard believes this will boost confidence in the market and encourage more investment.

“Flexible packaging excels in terms of material efficiency,” says Gerald Rebitzer, Director Sustainability for Amcor. “This creates a cascade of environmental benefits throughout the entire value chain, and avoids waste at source. What is still in its infancy is an end-to-end solution for this packaging type. This research could help close that gap.”

Guidelines aimed at providing information to packaging designers and technologists, brand owners, retailers and converters to design flexible packaging that is suitable for mechanical recycling have been developed. As more work is needed on investigating and evaluating the compatibility of all the various materials, the guidelines will not be released until further testing work has been completed and validated at European level.

Roger Morton, Director of Axion Consulting comments: “The REFLEX project demonstrated how state-of-the-art technology in sorting and preparation for recycling can help increase the rate of flexible packaging recycling. It also showed how novel packaging designs and potential new marking techniques may further increase recyclability and efficiency of the whole process.”

As the two-year project comes to a close, Roger explains that the next steps will be a ‘wider collaboration with more brand owners and converters and with more input from waste management companies and recyclers across Europe, to finalise and validate the design guidelines for recycling’.

He says: “It is pivotal that the value chain works together to address the challenge of flexible packaging recycling. Technical advances made in the REFLEX project and the guidelines should help the plastic packaging value chain in future to manage better the end of life packaging and progress towards a more circular model.

“Used flexible packaging is an important resource waiting to be mined for high quality materials with the potential to be recycled into all kinds of long-life applications from automotive products to rotational/ injection-moulded items.”

Dana Mosora, Director for Sustainability and Advocacy for Dow’s Packaging and Specialty Plastics, EMEA concludes: “We’re shining a light on each part of the value chain to come up with a better integrated system to collect, sort and recycle flexible plastic packaging and we have identified a clear need for investment to develop the infrastructure which will enable recycling of flexible packaging with state of the art technology today. We are also looking forward to work on developing the ‘Design for Recycling’ guidelines with a broader European consortium, to be formed by the proposed merging with the FIACE consortium and involving other relevant stakeholders.”

The consortium also welcomes the creation of a new European stakeholder platform that will focus on increasing recycling levels of plastic packaging, which has support from Plastics Europe, Plastics Recyclers Europe and European Packaging Converters.

For more information, contact Axion Consulting on 0161 426 7731 or visit the website – www.axionconsulting.co.uk.

 
Left to right – Leanne Taylor, Jane Gardner and Roger Mottram

Left to right – Leanne Taylor, Jane Gardner and Roger Mottram

RecoMed, the PVC medical devices take-back scheme, has won the Sustainability category of the 2016 INOVYN Awards for its innovative approach to sustainable healthcare recycling.

It’s the second accolade in just over a year for the scheme, which is run by project partners Axion Consulting, a resource recovery specialist, and the British Plastics Federation (BPF). Set up in 2014, RecoMed supplies recycling containers, communication materials and collections to participating NHS and private hospitals.

Funded by VinylPlus, the voluntary commitment to sustainable development by the European PVC industry, the scheme provides an alternative, sustainable disposal route for waste medical items made from high-quality medical grade PVC.

Collecting the award at a ceremony coinciding with the K2016 plastics and rubber show in Dusseldorf in October on behalf of Axion and the BPF, Axion’s Principal Consultant Jane Gardner said: “We’re delighted and very proud to win this award, which recognises the tremendous achievements of all participants and hospitals in recycling plastics from the medical waste stream.”

“RecoMed is gaining interest and growing all the time. We are particularly impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of clinicians without whom this scheme would not be possible,” she added.

Philip Law, Director General of the BPF said: “RecoMed is helping to extend the already impressive list of sustainability credentials underpinning PVC. Not only does it spotlight the efficient use of resources, it is also helping participating hospitals to save cash at a difficult point for the NHS. Plastics are very widely used throughout the health service and RecoMed is a pioneer not just for PVC but for other plastics as well.”

In 2015, RecoMed’s excellence in sustainability was recognised with the 2015 Association for Anaesthetic and Respiratory Device Suppliers (Barema) and the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) Environment Award.

It is estimated that up to 2,250 tonnes of PVC could be recycled by collecting items, such as anaesthetic facemasks, oxygen masks and associated tubing, from UK hospitals. Nine hospitals are currently taking part in RecoMed with more expected to join in coming months.

Participating hospitals save money on waste disposal costs by recycling non-infectious PVC medical items instead of sending them to clinical waste steams which are either incinerated or sent to specialist landfill sites.

Axion Consulting is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients, from Government agencies and local authorities to companies in diverse commercial sectors, on the practical development of new processing and collection methods to recover value from waste resources.

For more information, contact Axion Consulting on 0161 871 0567 or visit the website – www.axionconsulting.co.uk.