- DIGITAL SOLUTIONS
Kyoei Industry - the Japanese plastics recycling company - put into operation in the summer of 2018 the world's first plant that directly produces new PET bottle preforms from 100 percent recycled PET flakes. The innovative flake-to-Preform (FtP) inline process is based on the combination of EREMA's proven VACUREMA bottle-to-bottle technology with the XTREME Renew Preform Production System from SIPA, the Italian manufacturer of PET packaging solutions. With top quality values for the preforms and its unique ecological and economic performance, it impressed not only Kyoei and its customers, but also the jury of the World Star Packaging Award 2019.
The joint development of the inline process was initiated in 2014 by Kyoei and the Japanese beverage group Suntory. In autumn 2017, the direct processing of washed PET flakes into foodsafe preforms was demonstrated live for the first time at the headquarters of the Italian PET specialist SIPA. About a year after this presentation, Kyoei was able to put the world's first flake-to-preform system into operation at its plant in Kasama. Since then,
the company has been producing up to 300 million food-grade preforms per year from post consumer PET bottles in a single step. Their customer is Suntory, the internationally active beverage group, who sell their own beverage brands as well as products from well-known brand manufacturers around the globe and fill 2.5 billion bottles a year.
HOW IT WORKS
The VACUREMA part of the plant decontaminates the flakes and increases the viscosity of the input material, which is then melted and filtered. The food-grade melt is then fed directly into the XTREME injection moulding
machine. With this system, a further melting process (i.e. the melting of the rPET pellets, which is necessary in conventional processes) is no longer required. This in turn eliminates the risk of yellowing and the formation of
volatile organic compounds. Bottles made from these preforms therefore differ significantly in their appearance to other 100 percent rPET products. "If the quality of the washed flakes is right, the inline preforms don't need
to shy away from being compared to injection-moulded virgin products," says Christoph Woess, Business Development Manager for the bottle applications at EREMA Group.
BENEFICIAL IN BOTH ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC TERMS
The combination of four process steps - decontamination, IV stabilization, melt filtration and injection stamping - in one system reduces energy consumption by 30 percent compared to conventional systems. CO2 emissions are also reduced by 25 percent and are therefore significantly lower than with conventional PET bottle production from rPET raw material. Since no rPellets are produced, no additional dryers or storage areas are required, which leads to further cost savings.
Photocredit: EREMA und SIPA