Under the theme “Circularity and Innovation – Shaping the future of PET”, the complete PET industry sector shared perspectives and strategies for a succesful and even more circular future on 5 and 6 February. “Petcore Europe represents the entire PET value chain since 1993. The strength of the organisation is the engagement of over 90 participating member organisations working together on the circularity of PET through working groups and projects”, stated Stephen Short, President of Petcore Europe, when opening the conference.
“This engagement of all members, in combination with Petcore Europe’s commitment to look for the entire sustainable packaging solution as a united industry, is a great value for all stakeholders involved. Petcore Europe’s growth over the past two years is remarkable, we could welcome over 50 new members”, added Christian Crepet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe.
The focus of the first session of day one was to give an overview of the current PET market. Andy Grant from Eunomia gave an overview of the PET collection and recycling rates for 2018/2019 as well as the key drivers of the market. According to Eunomia, significant improvements have been made in recycling processes and with the increasing quality of materials, rPET could reach as much as 55% of total PET demand by 2030.
Afterwards, Alessandra Funcia, Head of Sales and Marketing Sukano, presented Petcore Europe’s two major working groups: WG PET Thermoforms Reccyling and WG on Recycling of Opaque and Functional PET packaging (former ODR). Alessandra focused on Design for Recycling as well as solutions for the uptake of recycled material from PET trays and ODR packaging.
Sebastian Lemp, from Petcore Europe then focused on the need for the PET industry to communicate and showcase the (environmental) benefits of PET. Sebastian introduced some projects and strategies of other like-minded organizations and iniatives and concluded: “It’s time to work together and make the circularity of PET understood amongst policy makers and the public”.
In the second session of the first day, experts from the PET value chain gave strategic outlooks from the PET producers’, converters’ and recyclers’ point of view.
- Steve Scott, Chairman of the Committee of PET Manufacturers Europe (CPME), addressed the PET market from the European PET producers perspective, providing his analysis of market developments as well as innovation and investement challenges.
- Nicolas Lorenz, from PACCOR, gave a converter’s vision for the future in his presentation, in which he focused on PET trays. The presentation showcased key areas for the future of PET and contained a strong message to the value chain: “We, the packaging manufacturers must work together to find out how packaging can be connected with the environment in the future.”
- In the third presentation of this session, Casper van den Dungen, Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE), gave a summary on what has changed in the past 12 months as well as an overview of the efforts needed to meet future recycling targets.
The session ended with Antonello Ciotti, President of Corepla, who presented how in Italy the industry is taking full responsability of collecting and recycling plastics packaging. Corepla is a prime example of the industry making efforts to meet the Circular Economy targets.
The third and last session of the day focused on technical challenges for the PET industry. Marie-Catherine Coquin from Danone and Cesar Velilla from Nestle Waters provided an overview of good practices for NIAS (non-intentionally added substances) evaluation and the work of the Petcore Europe Special Industry Group on PET NIAS (PING).
In the last presentation of the day, Professor John Fawell from the University of Cranfield presented microplastisc myths vs. scientific work done in the area. Professor Fawell concluded his presentation by stating the following: “We do not want scare stories about microplastic particles in drinking and bottled water to distract attention from the bigger issue of plastic waste in the environment and our individual responsibility for disposing of plastic waste safely.”
The second day of the conference started with the morning session focusing on “PET in the circular economy – a global perspective”. A significant highlight of the conference was the presentation by Rana Pant from the European Commission. Rana, Policy Officer at DG ENV focusing on the SUP Directive, gave a detailed overview of the SUP Directive and Essential Requirements in the PPWD. He insisted on an evaluation and follow-up of the new regulations by the European Commission as well as most likely an elaboration of a positive & negative recycling list.
John V. Standish, from APR (The Association of Plastic Recyclers – North America) continued the session with a presentation on package design guidance for PET in the United States and on how new requirements can support a gobal circular economy.
Last but not least, Professor Kim Ragaert from University of Ghent presented what is needed to make PET pots, tubs and trays roll down the bottles road into circular economy. Kim concluded her presentation by stating that Bottle PET made it to the posterchild of plastics recycling due to industry collaboration. PET trays have the same potential, with a few neat tricks provided by science it can follow the bottles into circular economy.
In the afternoon session of day two, the focus shifted to trends and solutions in the PET post-consumer collection and recycling.
First, Wolfgang Ringel from Tomra gave an overview of the current state of Deposit Return Systems and it’s potential to grow. He was followed by Vincent Colard from Citeo, who presented about the collection and sorting of ODR and PET trays in France and Citeo’s efforts to find circular solutions. Afterwards Gian de Belder from Procter & Gamble and Larry Logan from Digimarc presented the Holy Grail project on digital watermarks. Gian announced that several P&G brands will integrate digital watermarks with first shipments end of the year in Germany. To end this session, Nicolas Grotus from Pellenc ST gave an insightfull presentation on Artificial Intellegence and its place in solving food and non-food as well as other sorting challenges.
The third session of the day focused on trends in PET trays recycling. Ana Fernandez, from Klöckner Pentaplast highlighted that “recycling PET thermoforms is the final step in closing the already successfull PET recycling loop”. Ana present several projects that are working towards tray circularity. Afterwards, Mark Dawes from Dupont Teijin Films presented Mono-Material PET Lidding Films and concluded that PET is a unique polymer that enables mono-material tray and lid solutions with high percentages of recycled content in direct food contact applications.
The last session of this year’s Petcore Europe Conference focused on Monomer/Enhanced recycling which was generally seen as one of the most important long-term solutions to make PET even more circular.
Heike Fischer, from PETplanet introduced and moderated the session in which Leela Dilkes-Hoffman from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Wim Hoenderdaal from Indorama Ventures Europe and Bruno Van Gompel from Coca-Cola presented their views on PET monomer recycling. Wim, Chairman of the PET Monomer Recycling Special Industry Group had the pleasure to announce the first PET Monomer Recycling Forum on 16 April 2020 in Brussels.