PROCESSING AND PACKAGING 34 FOOD & BEVERAGE ASIA DECEMBER 2019 / JANUARY 2020 MetaPure W and S Recycling PET and PO B ottle empty – what now? Most consumers hardly ever think about what is going to happen to their bottle after they have drunk all its contents. The answers to this question are not inconsequential; they differ depending on where the consumer is located on the planet. A take-back system has been established in many nations. In countries like Germany that has a complete-coverage deposit system, the recycling quota for PET is already running at over 90%. But in the US, for example, the figure is significantly lower with only about 30% of these containers being returned to the cycle of reusable materials, through private recycling bins for PET, aluminium and paper. In future, there will be an ever-increasing need for fully functional collection or take-back systems of this kind, because the number of PET bottles produced each year has increased by about two-thirds during the past 14 years – from around 300 billion in 2004 to roughly 500 million in 2018. Both the public and politicians are demanding that this valuable resource, plastic, be utilised on a progressively more sustainable basis. And there are more food and beverage processing plants that have declared their definite intention to increase the proportion of recyclates in their end-to-end packaging in future. It is this situation that is being addressed by Krones’ recycling solutions. No two plastics are alike However, this can be stated upfront: No two plastics are alike. Depending on a particular plastic’s physical properties, it will exhibit a different hardness, resilience, heat-resistance and thermal stability – which entails different fields of application. For instance, transparent PET is predominantly used for producing beverage bottles. Hard-wearing polyolefins (POs), by contrast, serve primarily for making sturdier containers, toys, pipes and household goods. Due to their wide dissemination, it is essential to recycle the end-products after use and recover the plastics they are made of. PET: Washing and decontaminating Since 2009, Krones has already been closing a beverage bottle’s lifecycle for PET by means of its MetaPure technology. The portfolio includes the company’s own modules for washing and decontaminating. • The flakes are washed in the MetaPure W-PET. Here, they passed through a number of process steps – such as pre-treatment, caustic washing and hot post-washing – so that the pure flakes obtained are being turned into fibre or film. • If the PET flakes are intended to be reused in the beverage or food industries, they are passed to the MetaPure S. This is because the decontamination module treats the washed flakes in a way that they can be turned into f ood - g r ade pe l l e t s , p re f o rms and film. By mean of solid state polymerisation (SSP), the intrinsic v i s c o s i t y c a n b e i n c r e a s e d and matched to suit the end-product into which they will be made in each case.Since it is faster to decontaminate flakes than pellets, the MetaPure S excels in low energy consumption and gentle material handling.