Colgate-Palmolive has adopted Wellman Packaging's 100%rPET preforms for a range of household products now on shelf. This follows the packaging company's launch last year of a 90% recycled food grade rPE sauce bottle and 100%rPET preforms. PKN brings you the update.
Late last year PKN reported on developments in the innovation and sustainability program at Wellman Packaging when it released its 90% food grade recycled ‘Squeezy’ Sauce Bottle and then followed this up with the re-launch of its PET preforms using 100% recycled plastic content.
Since then, the first project commercialising the use of the recycled PET technology has been brought to market in collaboration with long term customer Colgate-Palmolive, which has Wellman’s 100% rPET bottles on supermarket shelves in a range of products including Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid and Ajax Spray’nWipe.
Craig Wellman, CEO and owner, tells PKN: “Colgate and Wellman have both invested heavily over the last two years in the success of this initiative and it is wonderful to see it being realised in such great products like these. Colgate is a forward-thinking business and it is truly a pleasure to work with them here in Australia and abroad.
“However, making preforms and bottles at these high levels of rPET is not without its challenges technically and carries high costs versus virgin resin, so this translates to a real commitment by a senior brand owner to push through the barriers and deliver an excellent long term outcome for the environment.”
The recycled PET is sourced from a number of Australian and international suppliers due to global shortages. Wellman commends the excellent work by Melbourne company, Martogg, which has aligned the future of its business with the manufacture of recycled plastics like rPET and continues to make large financial investments in new equipment to meet the challenge.
Wellman says, “Marcus Hogg and his family business have shown a true conviction to this shared vision and the investments they are making will most likely position them as the leading authority on recycled plastics in Australia in years to come.”
Wellman also sees great potential here for a second tier of rPET that is not food grade that can be used in applications like homecare, especially where the final product is fully shrink-sleeved, allowing any cosmetic imperfections to be covered.
“A non-food grade rPET will reduce recovery and production costs allowing increased recycled plastic usage in products that don’t need food approvals – releasing the highly sought after ‘Coke-quality’ rPET for food and beverage applications, especially those involving high speed blow-fill production lines – and together this will lead to an overall increase in the recovery rate for PET from the waste stream, therefore less landfill,” Wellman says.
Advancing rPET development
As a long standing participant in this industry, Wellman Packaging re-affirms its mission to be “better than carbon neutral”. In related developments in recycled plastics, Wellman informs PKN that it is well advanced on upgrading its existing Squeezy Sauce bottle from the now 90% food grade recycled plastic content to 100% recycled by the end of 2020, and has an in-principle undertaking from major retailer who seeks to use the technology.
“Part of our mission is to convert all of our feedstocks to recycled plastics and aside of the work on rPET and our rPE Squeezy Sauce bottle, we have been developing solutions for the use of recycled HDPE in laundry bottles and more recently a food grade application. Together, these account for the majority of our raw materials leaving polypropylene that we use for our caps, closures and thin wall packaging. PP, along with other specialty resins, is more challenging to convert to recycled due to the higher complexity in applications like our flip-top caps that we make where the polymer performance requirements and material recipes are sophisticated,” Wellman explains.
Wellman believes his company will most likely convert its PP applications, like closures, into renewable polymers grown from organic sources instead of recycled. He adds, “We have trialled a lot of different options including bio-polymers but so far have not found a good fit. However, it is a rapidly advancing and exciting area of research and right now, I have my money on plastics from hemp especially for injection moulding.”
Underpinning its confidence for the future and to provide a platform for realising its environmental objectives —including ‘going off the grid’ — the family business has now secured a large 50ha+ parcel of land on the outskirts of Sydney as it moves toward developing new ‘better than carbon neutral’ production facilities
Wellman concludes, “It’s exciting times and the beginning of the next 50-year life cycle. This investment lays ground for our integrated manufacturing solutions and ‘conscious manufacturing’ opportunities to forward thinking brand owners – and hopefully a benchmark for how FMCG manufacturing should be done.”