If recycled material comes into direct contact with food, it requires special certification from the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA). Reifenhäuser Cast Sheet Coating has developed a solution for the production of recycled PET sheet using a twin-screw extruder and a high-performance vacuum system that meets stringent EFSA requirements.
The benefit: The certified process directly processes PET recycling material without pretreatment or predrying in an additional reactor - which is otherwise required with other processes. Sheet producers save their investment in an additional equipment and avoid additional energy and maintenance costs.
The new Reifenhäuser process produces food-safe sheet from up to 100% PET bottle flakes. It also permits quick material and product changes, for example from post-consumer PET bottle regrind (PCR) to post-industrial PET production waste (PIR) or to virgin PET.
The packaging end product, such as a meat tray, then meets extremely high standards and is safe for use in packaging that comes in direct contact with food.
MIREX PET- lines are EFSA compliant by the co-rotating twin screw and the high performance vacuum system. Reifenhäuser Cast Sheet Coating supports customers during the certification process with the relevant authorities. This includes the upstream cleaning process of the ground material as well as quality monitoring of the feed material and production under the criteria defined by EFSA.
Quality monitoring of feed material
For PET recycling material a established system exists since many years where quality characteristics have already been defined for further processing - for example, the extent to which the material has been cleaned. PCR bottle flake recycled in Europe meets already defined standards in most cases. This simplifies monitoring within production.
Cleaning with defined parameters
The key to the EFSA-compliant processing of PET bottle flake into PET sheet is the MIREX PET line with twin-screw extruder and high-performance vacuum pump. The line configuration allows the melt to be cleaned under defined - and therefore reproducible - parameters directly in the process. In other words, sheet producers do not need to invest into an additional upstream cleaning and drying process, that would otherwise increase the space, energy and cooling systems required for the line. Product changes can be carried out quickly and easily.
Storing production parameters for verification
For EFSA audits, recipe- and product-related data of the certified process must be stored for several years. The ExtrusionOS Production Compliance software bundle helps to monitor and securely document production processes and compliance with EFSA-relevant thresholds in a data-based and real-time manner. A live dashboard provides transparency on ongoing production and its thresholds, enabling much faster action (see animation). In addition, a reel log stored in ExtrusionOS can be transferred to a digital product passport - for example, according to the open R-Cycle-Standard. ExtrusionOS Production Compliance is based on the connectivity solution ExtrusionOS Core & c.Hub Middleware and can be retrofitted to existing lines.