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Flexible Packaging Recycling Project Announces Research Results

Nestlé Purina a member of industry collaborative

Sep 23, 2016

An industry collaborative, of which Nestlé Purina is a member, announced Sept. 22 the findings of a research program, which showed that automated sorting technologies in use today can be optimized to capture flexible plastic packaging—potentially creating a new stream of recovered materials while improving the quality of other recycling streams.

The research, documented in the Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) report, “Flexible Packaging Sortation at Materials Recovery Facilities,” demonstrates that with adequate screening and optical sorting capacity, flexible plastic packaging can be efficiently captured in a single-stream materials recovery facility (MRF).

“We now know how flexibles flow through a material recovery facility and that the technology already exists for separating flexibles out of the materials streams,” said Larry Baner, senior packaging research scientist, global packaging and design for Nestlé Purina Petcare. “Although there is still a lot of work to be done to define the best way to separate flexibles from single-stream recyclables, this research moves us closer to solutions.”

Common forms of flexible plastic packaging include re-sealable food bags, pouches for laundry detergent pods, pet food bags, and snack bags.

This first phase of the research program sponsored by the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) collaborative included baseline testing, equipment testing, and a series of recovery facility trials to test existing sortation technologies commonly used in MRFs, such as screens and optical scanners. RRS developed the test methodology and conducted the research trials.

Subsequent research will focus on further refinements to sorting technology, economic feasibility, assessing end-use markets for the material, and developing a recovery facility demonstration project.

Read more about this project at https://www.materialsrecoveryforthefuture.com/research-results/

For further information: An industry collaborative, of which Nestlé Purina is a member, announced the findings of a research program, which showed that automated sorting technologies in use today can be optimized to capture flexible plastic packaging—potentially creating a new stream of recovered materials while improving the quality of other recycling streams.