This edition of SIPA Speaks was produced as COP26, 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, was coming to an end. Whatever was agreed at the event in Glasgow, it appears clear that we are close to tipping points on land, ice, and sea that could dramatically change life on earth. Not in our lifetimes, maybe not in those of our children, but quite possibly in those of our children’ children. We should all be doing our bit to make sure we never reach any of those tipping points.
We in the PET packaging sector are in the crosshairs of many environmentalists because for them, there is only one thing worse than plastic, and that is single-use plastic. And until today, PET has very much been a single-use plastic. This has to change.
Much more needs to be done to ensure that used packaging does not end up in the environment, to manage waste packaging, to sort recovered waste into streams pure enough for mechanical or chemical recycling, and to use recycled plastics in high-value applications – preferably the applications that the virgin plastics were first used in. Much of the technology already exists to make this come about. It is unfortunate that what is still missing in many situations around the world is the infrastructure to supply PET recycling plants with sufficient material; hopefully, this situation will be remedied soon.
As anybody who knows SIPA understands, SIPA wears its heart on its sleeve when it comes to sustainability. In this issue, we show yet again how we are championing the cause. On a technical front, SIPA continues to develop new and better technologies that will make PET packaging more sustainable, while commercially, we continue to be highly active in conversations at all levels relating to the Circular Economy, of which we are a strong supporter.
For example, SIPA has for some time been campaigning for legislation that is more in favor of the use of rPET in food-contact applications. Thanks in no small part to lobbying by SIPA, a law has now been passed in Italy enabling 100% rPET bottles to be produced in the country for use in food contact applications. An important SIPA customer headquartered in Italy recently launched a brand of mineral water in a 100% rPET bottle.
SIPA’s product design experts are involved in the development of thousands of new packaging designs every year. The three R – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – are constant principles in all these projects. In the Sustainability section of this edition of SIPA Speaks, we discuss a new brand, AWArPET, which stands for an environmentally conscious approach to the design and production of PET packaging. AWArPET bottles are lighter than ever. SIPA has for example been involved in one design project for a one-liter water bottle weighing just 16g, far lighter than most 1-L bottles currently on the market.
In one of our reports from around the globe, meanwhile, we talk about the ability of SIPA’s XFORM preform injection molding system to process 100% post-consumer recyclate, and why innovative Canadian mineral water supplier Ice River Sustainable Solutions ordered a 500-tonne version that went into production in August. This family-run company was the first beverage company in North America to purchase “blue box” materials to produce its 100% recycled plastic bottles – creating bottles made from bottles.
Use of rPET also figures in an article about bottles for water being made by Danone in Poland. Not only are the bottles made in rPET, but they are also extra-easy to recycle because they have no labels that need to be removed – all the decoration and information is embedded in the bottle walls.