Four large bales of recycled plastic packaging. Various bags, bottles, and tubs have been crushed and tied together at a processing plant.

Nineteen European partners have united under Buddie-Pack, a reusable plastic packaging project aiming to promote the utilisation of recycled plastics by preserving their protective properties and developing new cleaning solutions – an effort reportedly backed by the European Union.

Buddie-Pack is said to utilise innovative designs, recyclable materials, and a combination of social, technological, and economic approaches to manufacture recycled plastic packaging that fits all the current requirements.

By working towards new cleaning solutions to prevent the contamination and aging of recycled packaging over the course of its cycles, as well as ensuring the preservation of its functional properties for up to 300 cycles to prevent the spoilage of packaged food, it is hoped that less single-use plastic will be produced.

In turn, deploying reusable plastic packaging on a large scale is expected to lower the industry’s consumption of energy and water and tackle the pollutive effects of microplastics in the oceans.

Furthermore, social and solidarity economic models and the solutions based on them will apparently contribute towards the sustainability of Buddie-Pack’s proposed solutions ‘thanks to the profitability of stakeholders throughout the value chain’.

The participating businesses span across six countries, all said to be united in their aspiration to meet the sustainability targets set by the EU. A large majority of the companies are French, including the project coordinator, the Industrial Technical Centre for Plastics and Composites (IPC); complex plastic recycling cooperative Trivéo; the non-profit ACTIA, or the French Network of Food Technology Institutes; industrial washing solutions provider Eternity Systems; pressure washing service provider Uzaje; and protective packaging specialists Knauf Industries Gestion.

Plastics technology centre AIMPLAS, hygiene specialist Betelgeux, catering service Auzo Lagun S. Coop, and plastic fabrication company Plasticos Vicent SLU constitute the Spanish participants.

Other members include German reusable packaging system Vytal Global GmbH and chemical engineering company Plasmion GmbH; Ireland’s Technological University of the Shannon and the reportedly sustainable meat provider Dawn Meats Group; Dutch environmental consultant Searious Business; and from the UK, innovation and design agency Echo Brand Design and the University of Sheffield.

Andy Capper, co-founder and creative director of Echo, commented: “Circular packaging and systems are the future, but it’s challenging for brands to make a fundamental switch after a hundred years of perfecting one-way packaging. Being part of this amazing programme offers an opportunity to make a big impact on the future of packaging, using our design, insight and technical understanding, builds a deep knowledge of all the challenges that we can apply to our commercial work going forward.”

Indorama Ventures, VALORPLAST, Klöckner Pentaplast and CITEO previously undertook the more specific collaborative project aiming to develop and validate a commercial PET tray-to-tray recycling technology.

Another recycling project, Nextek Ltd’s COtooCLEAN project – which intends to put polyolefin film waste through supercritical CO2 and green co-solvents for waterless decontamination to produce food-grade recyclate – was recently awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Last year, the Danish Technological Institute sought to improve recycling technology in general, hoping to effectively incorporate household waste into similar products as opposed to downcycling it.