Jokey draws positive conclusions from rPP Foodgrade project

Since 2022, the Jokey Group has been pursuing its own research project under the scientific supervision of the IKK - Institute for Plastics and Recycling Technology (IKK) at the University of Hanover. The possibilities of recovering and reusing recycled polypropylene (rPP) from rigid food-grade packaging are being explored. An initial assessment shows opportunities.

For over 30 years, Jokey, one of the leading manufacturers of plastic packaging, has been using buckets made from post-consumer recyclates (PCR) in the non-food sector. The Jokey campaign "Grey is the New Green", which has been running since 2018, sees itself as an initiative to promote the circular economy to substitute virgin plastics with post-consumer recyclates. In the meantime, many customers from the non-food sectors rely on the recyclable packaging solutions that are already part of Jokey's standard products.

In addition to non-food packaging made from PCR, Jokey is also exploring in pilot projects the possibilities of how packaging made from recycled plastics could be used in the food industry. So far, there are no PP secondary raw materials that would be approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The legal requirements for food contact products are very high with regard to the health and safety of the end consumer. Thus, Jokey started a research project about a year ago to explore the possible use of recycled materials in food packaging. Jokey was scientifically accompanied by a research team from the IKK under the direction of Prof. Hans-Josef Endres.

The project focuses on empty packaging from commercial end consumers in the food processing industry. Up to now, the packaging has been collected at the points of origin and fed into a semi-industrial recycling process in the scientific environment of the IKK via the usual redistribution channels. The recyclates obtained from the mechanical recycling process were comprehensively characterised and thus also analysed for migration and substances contained in the material. All stages, from the commercial source of the emptied packaging to the processing of the raw material into new packaging, were examined and documented. Critical aspects of the recycling cycle could be identified more precisely with this monitoring and optimised in a targeted manner.

Closed loops - keeping circuits completely closed

"The results of the large-scale trials so far are promising," sums up Michael Schmitz, Sustainability Officer of the Jokey Group. "We are thus meeting with great interest in the food industry, because here too there is a desire for resource-saving and sustainable packaging made from secondary raw materials." However, the development of the product would have to go hand in hand with that of a coordinated collection system with corresponding logistics. In this way, a possible food approval on a European basis could become conceivable - in the next step, this also requires a professional scaling of the project results and the food law approval of the recyclates.

 

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