Nextek’s NEXTLOOPP, the 43-strong multi-participant global project that is closing the loop on post-consumer food-grade recycled Polypropylene (FgrPP), has reached a new pivotal point in its two-year project.

Following successful trials at Germany’s TOMRA in September 2021, where 99.9% sorting purity using Nextek’s invisible PolyPRISM™ fluorescent markers was achieved, NEXTLOOPP is now dispatching PPristine™ recycled PP prototype resins from post-consumer food packaging to its 43 participants for further trials.

The production trials of food-grade compliant rPP will begin shortly, making over 60 different products from NEXTLOOPP’s four grades of PPristine food compliant and "INRT grade" resins.

Luke Burgess, Director of Business Development at Viridor, the UK’s largest recycling operator whose most recent recycling facility at Avonmouth came on stream in 2021, says this milestone confirms the project is poised to address the key challenges to recycling this valuable polymer. It also opens up important commercial opportunities for the circular economy.

Robinson Packaging’s Managing Director UK, Steve Haley concurs, saying that NEXTLOOPP has reached an exciting time in trialing FgrPP. It should revolutionize the industry reducing the amount of virgin polymer needed in circulation for packaging and contribute to a sustainable future.

Haley adds that with the demand for post-consumer recycled material increasing, it is vital to have a high-quality food-grade solution for their customers while closing the loop in packaging. Through this valued partnership, all participants continue to learn from each other's expertise to find the perfect cost-effective solution that will have a huge impact on future developments within the industry.

In Malaysia, Heng Hiap’s CEO, Kian Seah, believes that food-grade demand will grow suddenly driven by public and regulatory pressure as the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, Heng Hiap are excited to collaborate with different stakeholders within NEXTLOOPP to enable this breakthrough together.

Pro-Pac Packaging Group's Category Manager–Food, Tim Strachan, says they are exploring innovative, sustainable change in rigid PP packaging driven by consumers, retailers and their customers who all want to make an impact.

Strachan added that NEXTLOOPP has provided tremendous knowledge, support and the technology to reach this latest milestone, bringing them even closer to answering the complexities of adding food-grade recycled PP material into food-grade PP products.

As NEXTLOOPP accelerates through the barriers of sorting and decontamination to close the loop on food-grade rPP, it is now fine-tuning the required data to compile the dossier for its application to EFSA and FDA for food compliance.

Professor Edward Kosior, the driving force behind NEXTLOOPP, explains that the real breakthrough into a sustainable circular economy has been the sorting into food packaging combined with the cleaning and decontamination of Polypropylene packaging to food safety standards. This has to meet the standards-compliant with the food safety authorities using Challenge Tests for validation, which is the basis for the PPristine rPP resins.