The recent announcement by Amsterdam-based Synvina, a joint venture of Amsterdam-based Avantium and BASF, headquartered in Germany, regarding commercial production of polyethylenefuranoate (PEF), a new polyester condensation polymer, has led to industry discussion regarding its potential impact on traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyester used for making bottles, sheet and films for packaging.
Following the interim approval of the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP), the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, and North American plastic recyclers would like to verify the claim that up to 2 percent of Synvina’s PEF would be compatible in the existing PET recycling stream.
The APR recommends the following evaluations:
the effect on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada compliance for blends of low levels of PEF in recycled PET;
the impact of beverage and food packaging made with PEF in states that have deposit legislation;
educational opportunities for material recovery facilities (MRFs) on strategies for sorting packaging made with PEF; and
creating new model bale specifications to include allowed levels of PEF.
Further testing to confirm whether low levels of PEF can be blended into recycled PET (RPET) without a negative impact on processing of RPET, as well as the leading products made from RPET, including bottles, thermoforms, strapping, sheet, textile and carpet fibers.
“We appreciate the fact that Synvina has shared their information with the industry,” says Steve Alexander, president of APR. “It is encouraging to have preliminary evidence that PEF might be included in the PET recycling stream at low levels. APR will be conducting further testing with Synvina to determine levels of compatibility with PET recycling over the next several months.”
Patrick Schiffers, CEO of Synvina, says, “We are committed to contributing to a circular economy with high-barrier packaging from Synvina's biobased PEF. The EPBP interim approval in Europe is a major milestone for us, and we will continue to work closely with our partners to further assess PEF's recyclability and the compatibility with the PET stream.”
*The original title of this article misstated that the APR agreed that PET bales could accept up to 2 percent PEF.