A project funded by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) scooped two awards at the 2007 Starpack Packaging Awards, held this week at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.
WRAP’s groundbreaking project to develop recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) milk bottles, delivered by core project team of Nextek, Nampak and Dairy Crest, won a Gold award for the Best Use of an Innovative Material, as well as a Bronze award for the Best Innovation to Reduce Waste.
Starpack aims to help raise packaging standards in the UK by recognising and encouraging creativity. This year’s awards attracted over 300 entries across 15 different categories.
Commenting on the awards, James Tunney, Customer Marketing Manager at Dairy Crest, said: 'This project clearly demonstrates that milk bottles containing recycled material can be as good as 100% virgin bottles in terms of safety, production, filling and transportation. We also received very positive consumer responses to the recycled content packaging.'
The project won two awards for developing a world leading recycling technology that has enabled the closed loop recycling of milk bottles. The process takes milk bottles from kerbside and bring schemes in the UK and recycles them back into new milk bottles.
By incorporating 30% recycled content into all 130,000 tonnes of plastic milk bottles used within the UK dairy industry, over 39,000 tonnes of waste would be saved.
A large-scale trial was completed as a part of the project and during December 2006, Marks & Spencer used 60,000 four-pint milk bottles for its milk. Following the success of the trial, Marks & Spencer are now selling its organic milk in bottles that have 10% recycled content.
Packaging containing recycled material has to meet the same high specifications as virgin materials, and the milk bottles containing 30% recycled HDPE were rigorously tested and passed to all UK, EU and consumer tests.
'We believe that milk bottles containing recycled plastic will become the widely practised and innovative method used to improve the environmental footprint of plastic milk bottles,' added James Crick, Commercial Director at Nampak Plastics.
The process has now been recognised by the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who have granted the rHDPE process a non-objection status.
Information on the WRAP manufacturing programmes can be found at http://www.wrap.org.uk/manufacturing/index.html