First PET thermoform plastic converter signs with PETCO
Signals changing sentiment among producers
RPC Astrapak Thermopac has become the first in the PET thermoform plastics sector – responsible for products such as lightweight sandwich and fruit trays, which account for just under 20% of PET products nationwide – to sign on with PETCO, which until now has been supported primarily by the PET bottle sector.
The move signals a changing sentiment among producers amid a tidal wave of pressure from government and civil society for retailers and brand owners – as well as their suppliers – to account for the end-use of products and packaging by ensuring they can be recycled either into their original form or used in alternative markets.
“PETCO has been engaging the PET thermoform sector since our incorporation in 2004,” said PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz. “This is a welcome move, so that together we can find sustainable solutions for these [thermoform] products going forward.”
Although thermoform products are not currently recycled in South Africa – a trend mirrored globally due to their complex make-up – the move by RPC Astrapak Thermopac indicates a shift in producer sentiment towards proactively seeking solutions to ensure the sustainability of their products and minimising any environmental impact.
Scholtz said PETCO had initiated a trial earlier this year in Cape Town to investigate clear PET thermoform recycling using existing PET bottle recycling infrastructure. She said the results had proved “encouraging” and that a solution was now within reach.
Thanks to the trial, PETCO member – together with one of the country’s largest recyclers, Extrupet – has come up with a likely end-use solution for thermoform recyclate, according to Extrupet joint MD, Chandru Wadhwani. PETCO, meanwhile, is now working on a plan to incentivise collectors to collect the lightweight thermoform products that conform to “Design for Recycling” guidelines and are compatible with the current PET bottle recycling infrastructure.