The process of recycling plastic packaging doesn’t begin with collection, but with the design!
In our modern society, we can no longer simply pretend that packaging doesn’t exist. It protects our products, provides them to the consumer in the right amounts, extends shelf life and provides information on the contents. After the, often short, lifecycle of packaging, it shouldn’t go to waste as it contains valuable substances.
GIZEH uses the “Design for Recycling” approach as a basis for packaging development: when designing a new container, we also consider how the empty container can be used. The recycling possibilities for the material we use are essential criteria to consider during the design stage. We aim to use only those materials which do not have any negative effects on recyclability.
Plastic packaging is made from a set of polymers adapted to the contents with specific additives so that the functional and/or aesthetic requirements of each manufacturer can be fulfilled. This variety can make the recycling process more difficult and expensive, and both the quality and value of the recycled plastic can be negatively impacted. A design decision made for marketing or branding reasons (e.g. to use very dark colors) can negatively affect the value of the recycled material at a later date.
Irresponsible design decisions can lead to unnecessary product residue in empty packaging. Creating packaging out of ill-considered combinations of polymers and materials can result in an inefficient recycling process. As such, product design is one of the keys to bettering recycling levels. Making design improvements can significantly reduce the costs for recycling plastic packaging waste.
The GIZEH development team work with biodegradable materials, or materials made out of renewable raw materials, as well as with diverse recycled materials.
- We are one of the first companies in the solid plastic packaging sector to have carried out trials with recycled polypropylene which has been produced from 100% household waste.
- Our trials told us that it is possible to create new packaging products from recycled polypropylene. This will help to lower the amount of plastic waste, as well as to quickly reduce CO2 emissions.
- At present, the EFSA have not given their approval to use polypropylene recycled from post-consumer waste. This can primarily be traced back to migration issues.
- As such, it will be a long time before it is possible to use such material in the food industry. However, we are already working on solutions to minimize migration.