An Ontario company is about to become the first water bottler in North America to make 100 per cent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET).
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a type of plastic typically used for food and non-food products.
Ice River Springs Water Co. Inc., a water bottling company, plans to set up a facility to produce its own 100 per cent RPET bottle.
The proposed factory in Shelburne, Ontario will eventually manufacture RPET for other Canadian producers.
“Currently, we’re making some of our products in RPET but we’re having to purchase from a manufacturer in the United States so the cost is higher than it would be for virgin material,” says Sandy Gott, vice-president of Ice River Springs.
Self-manufacturing RPET will allow Ice River Springs to keep its products at the same price while reaping several environmental benefits.
“What’s good about PET is that it can be recycled up to 20 times and it’s valuable in the waste stream, which helps offset the costs of recycling in Ontario’s blue box system,” Gott says.
She says that it typically takes 77,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) to produce 1,000 pounds of virgin resin.
“We will able be to produce ours at less than 7,000 BTUs,” Gott says.
The new process will also cut back on transportation emissions.
Ice River Springs is located in Feversham, Ontario. The proposed plant in Shelburne would be right along the company’s shipping lane.
“We can backhaul the baled plastic from municipal recycling facilities and not add any carbon footprint or cost,” Gott says.
How it works
Gott says that the plant will use “state of the art technology” from two companies – AMUT and STARLINGER.
AMUT’s washing technology is expected to minimize water, chemicals and energy during the cleaning process.
STARLINGER’s purification technology, called Solid State Poly-condensation (SSP), is also expected to curtail energy.
SSP converts clean flakes from the washing line to high quality PET pellets. The pellets can then be used in Ice River Springs’ injection moulding machinery to make the preforms for new water bottles.
AMUT and STARLING technologies have been combined to recycle PET bottles in France, but this is the first time that their technologies will be used together in North America.
The facility is expected to be up and running by July 2010.
“Our long-term goal is to produce food-grade RPET for other Canadian manufacturers,” Gott says, adding that the company is already seeing an interest for ice cream tubs and clam shells, which hold products like salads and sandwiches.
Gott says that it expects to be selling to other markets by 2011.