Plastic bottles are fast becoming one of the most sustainable products to use in a circular economy

Plastic bottles are fast becoming one of the most sustainable products to use in a circular economy

A new recycling operation in Germiston plans to increase the number of PET bottles recycled every year by 29,000 tonnes.

The state-of-the-art polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling facility called Mpact Polymers is based in Germiston and is an initiative of recycling company Mpact.

The R350 million facility will focus on increasing the amount of PET bottles that are recycled every year to divert waste from landfills across the country, and to reduce carbon emissions.

Mpact explained that 29,000 tonnes of plastic waste amounts to a saving of about 180 000 cubic metres of landfill space each year, the equivalent of 75 Olympic-size swimming pools.

“The saving in carbon emissions also amounts to about 45 000 tons a year,” John Hunt, managing director at the company said. “Further, through PET collection and recovery, the operation will also help to create entrepreneurial income opportunities.”

Recycling facility recognised by EU Food Safety Authority

Mpact Polymers recently met the standards of the European Union’s Food Safety Authority.

The company said its recycled PET plastic had been tested by the Fraunhofer Institute in Munich, Germany.

“The product was found to comply with the EU regulations specific to plastic materials and articles intended for contact with foodstuffs,” Hunt said. “This means the materials are found to be safe for use in the packaging of food and beverage products.”

Recycling process

Hunt explained that the recycling process used at the plant transforms used PET bottles into resin that meets the needs of the most demanding food and beverage packaging applications.

He said this process “ensures that the material can be re-used to make the same bottles from which it came, thereby closing the recycling loop”.

According to industry body PETCO, total PET consumption in South Africa is around 198,000 tonnes per year. Of that, 68% is consumed in the beverage industry for bottle manufacture.

PETCO added that the demand for recycled PET has grown as companies are trying to reduce their environmental impact, which means that an operation such as Mpact Polymers provide a required product while reducing the amount of PET being disposed of in landfill sites.