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Award-winning British Recycling Project, NEXTLOOPP, Hits Bullseye in Plastics Recycling Ahead of COP26

NEXTLOOPP, the groundbreaking project by Nextek Limited, that recently won the overall award for ‘Best Sustainable Packaging Innovation’ at Packaging Europe’s Sustainability Awards has revealed the results of its highly successful tracer-based sorting trials held at TOMRA (Germany) in September 2021.

The trials, to specifically sort food-grade plastic packaging waste, achieved a resounding 99.9% sorting purity at maximum production speed.

This demonstrates that Nextek’s unique technology efficiently differentiates food packaging from non-food packaging to meet the standards required by the Food Standards Authorities in the UK and EU. Being able to identify and sort any number of pack variants from bleach bottles to milk bottles in any plastic type is a world-first that will transform the way we recycle the prolific volume of single-use post-consumer food packaging waste back into circular applications.

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This announcement marks 12 months of NEXTLOOPP’s programme to close the loop on food-grade Polypropylene (FGPP), which is the biggest plastic fraction in the FMCG sector. In the UK alone, 210,000 tonnes of FGPP packaging is used in pots, tubs, trays and films each year, and this cutting-edge innovation creates the opportunity to recycle Polypropylene (PP) back into food packaging.

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This also heralds a new era in the plastics packaging recycling industry and the validation of NEXTLOOPP’s PolyPRISMTM ‘plug-and-play’ marker system, as used on TOMRA’s sorting equipment for commercial purposes.

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Sorting plastic waste into polymer types is the first of three vital steps needed to close the loop on PP and create a global low carbon economy. The next step requires splitting the plastic packaging into food and non-food fractions. The final step involves NEXTLOOPP’s patented decontamination process, PPristine, which unlocks the markets to food packaging. Recycling 63,000 tonnes of PP per annum would save a minimum estimated 105,600 tonnes in CO2 emissions in the UK each year.

“During recent trials held at our TOMRA Test Centre we achieved very promising results on all Polypropylene 3D samples in all test runs with state-of-the-art NIR/VIS technology. We exceeded the required 95% purity for food-grade in each test run. The next important milestones will be a field demonstration as well as demonstrating chemical compliance with food-grade regulation” said Ralph Uepping, Technical Director at TOMRA.

Professor Edward Kosior, founder of Nextek, believes the NEXTLOOPP project is the catalyst to transform current FGrPP recycling and become the next food-grade recycling success story. PET was first and now it’s the turn of PP.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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