Dairies Accelerate Towards Recycled Plastic Targets

UK - Production of recycled high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE) is accelerating fast, as milk processors race to meet the 2010 Milk Roundup targets.
calendar icon 30 November 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

James Donaldson, managing director of recycling group Greenstar WES, told Food productiondaily.com , that its production of r-HDPE was 350 tonnes in October and is due to rise to 600 tonnes by January.

Recycling progress

The government set the UK dairy industry a target of incorporating 10 per cent r-HDPE into plastic milk bottles by 2010. Dairy UK confirmed recently that processers were on their way to meeting that goal.

Mr Donaldson said demand for r-HDPE had been ramped up in recent months and that Greenstar now has supply building up with all the three major dairies in the UK.

Increasing r-HDPE content to 10 per cent is one thing but the industry now has to look forward to increasing the figure to 50 per cent by 2020.

Reaching that long-term goal will depend more on investment and commitment than innovation, said Mr Donaldson.

No technical barriers

Mr Donaldson said that there are no technical barriers remaining to prevent increasing recycled content to 30 or even 50 per cent. What remains to be seen is whether there is enough money to be made to ensure a return on investment for all partners in the recycling loop.

Producing recycled HDPE that meets the high standards of the dairy industry is an expensive business, demanding significant investment, he said.

Greenstar said that adapting its technology for processing HDPE demanded substantial investment to assure output quality. To help the dairy industry meet the 2020 targets, Greenstar and others will have to significantly expand their capacity.

For that to be the case, Mr Donaldson said there has to be a return on investment. But with much of the hard and costly work already done, he said it should be easier to increase r-HDPE content from 10 to 50 per cent than from 0 to 10 per cent.

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