MRFF Flexible Plastic Packaging Project, the first of its kind pilot project in the United States, yields fruitful results.
The Materials Recovery For the Future (MRFF) Flexible Plastic Packaging is a Foundation for Chemistry Research and Initiatives’ project that aims to increase and improve the options of recycling for flexible plastic packaging (FPP).
The foundation is a tax-exempted organization of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Apart from the foundation, several consumer goods companies, virgin plastic manufacturers, stakeholders, and industry associations are the members of this revolutionary project of recycling industry.
In its recent publishing, MRFF announced the pilot research findings, performed at the TotalRecycle Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in partnership with J.P. Mascaro & Sons in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. According to it, MRFF met four out of five pre-defined performance goals during the pilot phase.
5 Pilot Performance Goals of MRFF flexible plastic packaging project
- Bringing down the amount of flexible plastic packaging going into fiber products, even after raising its amount in feedstocks.
- Bringing down the amount of paper to the lowest in the commodity bale, called rFlex.
- A reduction of 25% in fiber quality control staff, followed by their reallocation to other MRF jobs.
- The amalgamation of the FPP recovery system into the existing MRF control system of TotalRecycle.
- A minimum capturing of 90% of FPP, determined from years of pre-pilot research.
While the pilot project accomplished all other performance goals, it failed in capturing 90% of FPP coming into the MRF. Until February 2020, the capturing rate of TotalRecycle MRF was 74 percent; however, additional equipment tuning and minor in-progress upgrades were noted by the MRFF report.
According to the MRFF Research Director and RSS Vice President, Susan Graff, the need of the hour is to find financially feasible markets and opportunities for rFlex bales.
She expects the pilot research to help other MRFs and communities in cost-effectively recycling FPP during the production of cleaner paper bales. Furthermore, she looks forward to betterment in quality recycling and increment in recycled-content products’ purchase if the municipalities and businesses work together for updating sorting equipment.
The Recycling and Sustainability Director of J. P. Mascaro and Sons, Joseph Mascaro Sr., expressed his excitement for being a part of this successful and historical MRFF flexible plastic packaging project of recycling industry. He disclosed the company’s plan to refine further the program to produce even better quality commodity bale for recycling into new products.
According to Brent Heist, the Co-Chair Steering Committee, MRFF and Section-Head – Packaging Sustainability, P&G, FPP is one of the most speedily growing consumer packaging formats in the US, with an annual consumption of about 12 billion. But, the collection and recycling of this material for manufacturing new products require a comprehensive approach.
Resource Recycling Systems’ report on FPP recycling in MRF pilot shows that good optical sorting capacity and peripherals can effectively capture FPP in a large single-stream MRF and process it into rFlex bale, for reuse.