Bright Green Plastics has teamed up with the University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and Unilever to advance technology in the use of post-consumer recyclate (PCR) resin. The £965k project, led by the University of Liverpool, is aiming to make the plastic packaging used in products such as shampoo bottles more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Alongside Unilever, Bright Green Plastics will act as an industrial partner, ensuring that the research is guided by industrial needs and that the findings have a direct route to market.
The project will provide the necessary technological advancements to take forward the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin, which can be made by recycling High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), one of the most common plastics used in packaging.
This will allow PCR to be more widely adopted in the manufacture of plastic products to reduce the amount of unrecycled plastic entering the market – as opposed to new, virgin plastic – helping to drive a circular economy approach and lowering greenhouse gases.
Previously, an increase in PCR content in packaging has typically reduced packaging performance, which has limited its wider use in packaging by industry. However, the project will use data science combined with detailed materials analysis of the plastics to understand how HDPE changes during the mechanical recycling process to create PCR. This new knowledge will be used to develop interventions to improve the performance of PCR.
The project will also investigate how this disruption within supply and demand for PCR will impact the supply chain.
Bright Green Plastics’ Head of Technical and Quality, Sam Hill (pictured, right), comments:
“Our business is committed to improving the uptake of recycled plastics by striving for excellence throughout our whole recycling process; from sourcing of the waste plastics, sorting and segregation through to formulation and compounding.
“We know that by developing a deeper understanding of our raw materials, we will be able to serve new customers, producing grades of higher quality than before opening new markets. We believe that interdisciplinary cooperative teams are key to improving the quality of PCR resins as this goal is heavily reliant on the participation of the whole value chain.”
Steve Spencer, Managing Director at Bright Green Plastics (pictured, left), adds:
“By pooling our collective resources and combining commercial and academic knowledge, this project has the potential to change the face of the global packaging industry, tipping the balance of power from virgin to recycled plastics. It’s an exciting time, and we’re proud to play our role in this game-changing project.”
The project is one of ten university-led research projects funded through the NERC Enabling Research in Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme. Follow the link for more information.