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Flight Plastics opens NZ's first PET Plastic Wash plant

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Flight Plastics today welcomed Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister Scott Simpson to officially open its new PET wash plant. The wash plant is the first of its type in Australasia to take PET plastic drinks bottles recycled at kerbsides around the country and process them for use in the manufacture of food grade PET packaging all in one place.

The New Zealand family owned business, established over 100 years ago, has been producing food grade RPET (Recycled PET) plastic since 2014 from imported RPET flakes.

Flight Plastics Director Derek Lander said:

"Today is a milestone for Flight and for our customers. Five years ago, we assessed the economic and environmental costs and benefits of introducing a wash plant in New Zealand.

The business case was predicated on the wash plant being part of an integrated solution to use the RPET flake in on site production. The next step was Flight’s investment in the RPET extrusion plant which allowed us to introduce RPET food packaging manufactured with imported RPET to test the market with our customers.

"Today we close the loop on what is in total a $12 million investment introducing world class European technology with a proven track record for producing high quality, food grade RPET packaging Flight customers can now buy RPET packaging made from New Zealand waste bottles which have been washed, shredded, turned into RPET flakes, made into RPET sheet and thermoformed into new Flight RPET food containers here in Lower Hutt."

Keith Smith, CEO, Flight Plastics told guests:

"Every PET bottle or container recycled at Flight is given a new life, saving the import of materials and reducing waste to landfill. The environmental benefits from managing our own plastic PET waste in New Zealand are obvious but there are huge economic benefits too.

New Zealand imports around 20,000 tonnes of virgin PET every year. This volume is increasing as PET is more widely used in food trays to replace non-recyclable materials."

"Around 8000 tonnes of PET bottles are currently recycled at kerbside and we have the capacity to process 6000 tonnes clear PET bottles and packaging at this plant with the ability to expand as recycling volumes increase. This reduces the need to import virgin PET because we are producing a continuous supply of New Zealand-made RPET.

"Resource recovery is vital to New Zealand’s economy. Off shore recycling options are getting fewer meaning that countries need to find solutions for their own waste. Flight RPET containers are made from New Zealand recycled PET and are 100% recyclable so Flight are able to take them back and recycle the PET again and again with all the environmental and economic benefits repeated on each loop. Research tells us that people will recycle more if they know it is not sent off shore. New Zealanders want to see their recycling efforts arriving back on their supermarket shelves where we can all be part of a genuine circular economy."

Flight has produced a video showing the circular economy New Zealand now has for PET and an animated video called Barry The Bottle to help build awareness of what happens to PET bottles when they are put out for recycling: Links:-

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