Chemicals giant launches new circular economy packaging using recycled waste

Refinery and chemicals giant Total has launched a new range of recyclable polymer packaging made from at least 25% recycled household waste from Western Europe, as part of the companies pledge to embed closed-loop models in its production phase.

Total has introduced the new range of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) Circular Compounds to its packaging customers. The compound will consist of two grades used for blow-molded bottles and heavy duty containers. One grade will have a guarantee attached ensuring that a minimum of 25% is made from post-consumer recycled waste, while the second grade will ensure a 50% guarantee.

Total’s European vice president for polymers Jean Viallefont said: “Total is currently extending the applications of the recycled compounds concept by developing additional new grades, since we believe it will be essential to place the European virgin plastics industry in a new yet essential role as ‘circularity enhancer’.”

The company claims that the new compound will perform “equal to or exceeding that” of virgin resins and around 20 kilotonnes will be integrate into packaging streams by 2017.

Using its Antwerp plant, Total will work with selected recycling partners to collect waste in Western European countries, before subjecting the waste to a deep decontamination process to create an “absolute fragrance-free resin”.  

Total is hoping that the new resin will open up new European markets for high-quality recycled polymers, and believes this will enable downstream industries to use recycled materials across numerous sectors.

Square pegs in circular holes

Packaging has proved to be one of the major stumbling blocks in what is an otherwise continental effort to promote circular economy standards and practices. Confusion over recyclability notwithstanding, businesses are pushing innovative new methods to create closed-loop systems for packaging.

Food processing and packaging company Tetra Pak has been leading the way in this regard, but others such as Total are now following the trend. Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola has called on global governments and regulators to ignite a ‘cultural shift’ towards closed-loop business models – a transition that will only be possible if policymakers take a ‘leap of faith’ to back the circular economy.

Elsewhere, Carlsberg has launched a cross-sector collaborative project to develop the world’s first fully biodegradable wood-fibre beer bottle. In regards to the ongoing issues surrounding the recyclability of plastic polymers, new invisible markers – backed by Innovate UK – could provide a potential solution.

Matt Mace

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