Following successful trials at TOMRA in September 2021, NEXTLOOPP is now dispatching PPristine recycled PP prototype resins derived from post-consumer packaging to its 43 participants for further trials.

Last year, trials conducted at the Germany-based TOMRA test centre demonstrated a 99.9% sorting purity at maximum production speed using Nextek’s invisible PolyPRISM fluorescent markers.

After the success of this trial, NEXTLOOPP has announced that it will now dispatch its prototype rPP resins to its 43 participants, which includes Unilever, Danone, INEOS, and TerraCycle, among others. This means that the production trials of food-grade compliant rPP will begin shortly, with the intention to test over 60 different products made with NEXTLOOPP’s four grades of PPristine food complaint and “INRT” grade resins.

Luke Burgess, director of business development at Viridor, one of the UK’s largest recycling operators and a member of NEXTLOOPP, says: “This milestone confirms the project is poised to address the key challenges to recycling this valuable polymer. It also opens up important commercial opportunities for the circular economy.”

According to Steve Haley, managing director UK at Robinsons Packaging’s, another NEXTLOOPP member, this milestone “should revolutionise the industry, reducing the amount of virgin polymer needed in circulation for packaging and contribute to a sustainable future.

“With the demand for post-consumer recycled material increasing, it is vital to have a high-quality food-grade solution for customers while closing the loop in packaging.

“Through this valued partnership, all participants continue to learn from each other’s expertise to find the perfect cost-effective solution that will have a huge impact on future developments within the industry.”

Kian Seah, CEO of NEXTLOOPP participant Heng Hiap, predicts: “Food-grade demand will grow suddenly, driven by public and regulatory pressure as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Tim Strachan, category manager of food at Pro-Pac Packaging Group, says the NEXTLOOPP project is “exploring innovative, sustainable change in rigid PP packaging driven by consumers, retailers and their customers who all want to make an impact.”

NEXTLOOPP’s next steps will be fine-tuning the required data to compile the dossier for its application to EFSA and FDA for food compliance.

Professor Edward Kosior, CEO of Nextek, concludes: “The real breakthrough into a sustainable circular economy has been the sorting into food packaging combined with the cleaning and decontamination of Polypropylene packaging to food safety standards.

“This has to meet the standards compliant with the food safety authorities using Challenge Tests for validation, which is the basis for the PPristine rPP resins.”

Nextek’s NEXTLOOPP project was the overall winner of Packaging Europe’s 2021 Sustainability Awards. Since then, Nextek’s COtooCLEAN project, which aims to produce food-grade recyclate from polyolefin film waste using supercritical CO2 and green co-solvents for waterless decontamination, secured funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).