Unilever in partnership for closed-loop packaging initiative

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Consumer goods giant Unilever has announced a partnership with start-up company Ioniqa the Thai PET resin manufacturer Indorama Ventures to pioneer a new technology which converts PET waste back into virgin grade material for use in food packaging.

Eindhoven, Netherlands-based Ioniqa has developed a proprietary technology that is able to convert any PET waste back into transparent virgin grade material, a technology that the three partnering companies believe will ‘transform’ the industry.

In a 4 April statement, Unilever said Ioniqa’s technology had successfully passed its pilot stage and is now moving towards testing at an industrial scale. 

The new technology takes non-recycled PET waste - like coloured bottles - and breaks it down to base molecule level, while separating the colour and other contaminants.

The molecules are converted back into virgin grade quality PET at Indorama’s facility.

According to Unilever, if proven successful at industrial scale, the technology will make it possible to convert all PET back into high quality, food-grade packaging.

In 2017, Unilever committed to all of its plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

“This innovation is particularly exciting because it could unlock one of the major barriers today – making all forms of recycled PET suitable for food packaging,” said chief Unilever R&D officer David Blanchard.

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