It comes as no surprise to learn that the majority of parliamentarians in Germany’s Bundestag have now finally approved the changes to the German Packaging Law. This means that the extension of the mandatory deposit to include PET juice bottles will ultimately come into force as of January 2022. Stricter regulations on recyclability and the amount of recyclate in PET bottles will also apply in the future. This is where technology from the KHS Group comes into play. The company provides tried-and-tested, future-proof systems and solutions to strengthen the closed recycling loop as now specified by law, among them its FreshSafe PET glass coating technology. This sustainable packaging alternative with a high level of product protection enables pure-grade bottle-to-bottle recycling without contaminating the recycling loop.
“Producing designs suitable for recycling, especially as regards single-use PET bottles, is now even more important following the decision made by the German government,” says Philipp Langhammer, product manager for barrier technology at KHS. Implementing the new legal requirements is a huge challenge for all those involved, however – from retailer to recycler. For instance, juice and nectar bottles made of PET that may contain additives with oxygen absorbers can no longer be collected through the yellow recycling sack system but are to be returned to the recycling loop. However, these additives make them more difficult to recycle than a normal PET bottle, in turn complicating joint further processing of both bottle types. “With our FreshSafe PET barrier technology, an interior SiOx coating of chemically pure glass, we provide an established system for this relevant problem. It makes bottle recycling much easier as the coating can be simply washed off during the recycling process,” Langhammer explains.
Of great significance
By including PET bottles previously not subject to a deposit in the system, it is extremely likely that more rPET will be available to the bottle-to-bottle loop – at least this is what many stakeholders expect. According to a study by packaging market research institute GVM from 2018, to date about 10% of all PET bottles each year are still lost to the closed recycling loop due to the limitations of the mandatory deposit system. This amounts to approximately 40,000 metric tons of plastic per annum that cannot be reused to make food packaging. In Langhammer’s view, extending the mandatory deposit system is thus a leverage factor that can be used to further increase the average amount of recyclate in PET bottles. This not only promotes sustainable processes but also increases consumer acceptance of this material. Furthermore, bottle-to-bottle recycling provides a number of benefits regarding the carbon footprint, says Langhammer. “rPET has a balance that is up to 60% better than new material in this respect.” This is why KHS welcomes the changes to the German Packaging Law.
With its environmentally-friendly packaging and resource-saving machine technology, the systems supplier helps its customers to make their production processes ever more sustainable. The packaging experts at KHS believe it is important to effectively close recycling loops. KHS’ InnoPET Blomax Series V PET stretch blow molder therefore processes preforms made of up to 100% recyclate, for instance. If required, it can be supplemented by the digital, automated Unit Mold Control system that can better regulate the variance of the rPET, among other things. Another ecofriendly option from KHS is the Beyond Juice 100%-recyclate bottle concept with a FreshSafe PET interior coating in combination with Nature MultiPack from KHS, a container system that holds bottles together with dots of adhesive which are strong and secure yet easy to remove. This reduces the amount of packaging waste by up to 90%. All KHS shrink packers can also process film made entirely of recyclate. “We’re continuously developing our technologies further with an eye to sustainability and consistently support the idea of the circular economy,” states Langhammer.
 Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung (2018): “Aufkommen und Verwertung von PET-Flaschen in Deutschland 2017” (occurrence and recycling of PET bottles in Germany). Study carried out on behalf of Forum PET within the German Association of Plastics Packaging and Films.