Macpac to unveil breakthrough recyclable material at Packaging Innovations

Packaging business Macpac is releasing what it believes could prove a significant breakthrough material for use in sectors including confectionery, known as Breakdown PET.

It is due to be unveiled at this year’s Packaging Innovations show at the NEC in Birmingham, UK, between February 27-28, alongside a number of key developments within the sector.

According to the UK-based company, the product is both fully recyclable in having at least 90% recyclate in the blend, but with the added benefit of an end-of-life solution. Once in landfill, it is claimed the material breaks down in years rather than centuries.

The business emphasised that Breakdown PET is not primarily designed for landfill – it is designed to be recycled, just as conventional R-pet (recycled polyester fabric) is. It demonstrates the same characteristics as conventional R-PET. For variable reasons billions of plastic containers find their way into landfill sites every year rather than being recycled for re-use. Breakdown PET provides a viable solution to these discarded containers enabling them to naturally decompose in a few years rather than centuries.

As the firm explained, the system works through naturally-occurring micro-organisms that live in landfill love carbon – and landfill sites are filled with it. While acknowledging that there is a lot of carbon in plastic, it is in the long polymer chains which are difficult for micro-organisms to eat and the root of the problem.

Breakdown PET makes the chains smaller and easier to break down. Hence Breakdown PET. This uses an additive composed of organic compounds that attract microbes when placed in to microbe-rich environments.

There are said to be no enzymes or microbes within the additive. Collectively, they feast on the polymer chains, breaking down the chemical bonds that hold the plastic together leading to biodegradation. Its key benefits include FDA and EU food contact compliant, 100% recyclable, 100% biodegradable, as well as having the same shelf life and strength as conventional R-PET.

In addition,  Breakdown PET only activates in oxygen-starved landfill, and compared to conventional PET packaging, Breakdown PET will reduce the long term impact on landfill. It also reduces the bulk of plastic waste allows for more effective use of diminishing landfill space. It also leaves behind only organic matter with no toxins or micro plastics remaining.

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