PP bottles, PET film boast PCR content

Colgate-Palmolive's Murphy's oil soap has been in translucent blow-molded polypropylene bottles for years, and the New York-based firm had no desire to switch.

But with plastics recycling laws in several states about to require that plastic bottles be reusable or have 25% post-consumer content, C-P management had to consider alternatives. Reusability, after all, was hardly an option, and there was no source of PCR PP. Now there is. Developed by Himont USA (Wilmington, DE), ReFax is a compound available in pellet form that consists of 75% virgin and 25% recycled PP. Last month C-P became the first to use it commercially for a packaging application when it began blowing and filling 16- and handled 32-oz bottles made of ReFax in its Solon, OH, facility. Says Joseph Norris, associate director of specialty packaging and environment at C-P, "Al- ternative materials cause changes in the appearance of the product, so we are pleased we can comply with the new law, keep our package shelf image, and improve markets for recycled polypropylene." Also added to the resin is a clarifier, so that not only is the new Murphy's bottle more environmentally correct, it's also clearer than the old bottle it replaces. Himont subsidiary Polymer Resource Group, located in Baltimore, separates PP from commingled bales, grinds and washes it, then compounds the PCR flake with virgin PP. It then extrudes and pelletizes the material so that blow molders receive pellets containing minimum 25% PCR. The resin used in Murphy's oil soap bottle, ReFax RE-256M, has a nominal 2 melt flow rate and, according to Himont's Ellsworth Brown, processing requires no significant change from methods used for virgin material. As for cost comparisons, he estimates that if a company paid 45 cents per lb for virgin PP, ReFax would cost about 50 cents per lb. In a separate PCR development, a Wilmington neighbor of Himont USA, ICI Films, has announced the availability of a food packaging film containing a minimum of 25% PCR polyethylene terephthalate. Called Melinex® Eco(TM) 813G, the film, says ICI, "is produced from resin which has received clearance from the Food and Drug Admin- istration."

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