New study reveals the potential of recycled plastic in food packaging
Orthex Corporation, Press release, 29 November 2023 at 10.15 a.m. EET
Orthex and Fortum have joined forces in the SULKI research project, which is part of SPIRIT (Sustainable Plastics Industry Transformation) programme supported by Business Finland and driven by Borealis with the aim to transform the plastics industry towards a more sustainable future.
As a part of the SPIRIT programme, Orthex and Fortum are researching in collaboration with other partners whether recycled plastic could be used in products suitable for food contact.
Orthex and Fortum have been collaborating on recycled plastics for several years and Orthex has used Fortum Circo® recycled plastic in several products. This project concentrates on researching whether Fortum Circo® could be used in products suitable for food contact, if it was made from food plastic packaging collected from consumers. The carbon footprint of the Fortum Circo®-PP grade used in the project is more than 70% lower than that of virgin polypropylene, and is therefore a sustainable choice as a raw material.
Based on the tests performed on separately collected material at Fortum's Riihimäki plastic refinery, material fractions were found that passed all the same laboratory tests that Orthex uses regularly to ensure the safety and suitability of its products for food contact.
The results of the product development and tests indicate that recycled plastic is, at least in principle, suitable for food contact. However, starting production on a profitable industrial scale would require e.g., further development of sorting technology. Challenges are also posed by the closed cycle required for product safety, i.e., ensuring that recycled plastic intended for food contact is made from plastic packaging originally used for packaging food.
“These research results are very promising and give us hope that we can make more of our future products from recycled plastic, including those for food contact. It is vital for us to lower the carbon footprint of our products as we’re aiming towards carbon-neutral production by 2030”, says Alexander Rosenlew, CEO of Orthex.
"The executed pilot study shows excellently that even mechanically recycled material is safe to use and can even be used in food packaging. However, a lot of research work is still needed, and especially harmonisation of packaging materials, so that industrial use would be feasible. It is a pleasure to discover that there are responsible and innovative companies like Orthex, which are ready to research and develop future solutions from recycled plastics", says Mikko Koivuniemi, Business & Technology Development Manager, BL Plastics, Fortum Recycling & Waste.
The research project’s next focus areas are the development of sorting technology, improvement of traceability, and further review of the legal restrictions. The project will last until the end of 2024.
Further information on the SPIRIT programme is available here: SPIRIT programme
Alexander Rosenlew, CEO, Orthex Corporation
Tel. +358 (0)40 500 3826
Hanna Kukkonen, CMSO, Orthex Corporation
Tel. +358 (0)40 053 8886
Mikko Koivuniemi, Business & Technology Development Manager, BL Plastics, Fortum Recycling & Waste
Tel. +358 (0)40 552 5363
Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd
Orthex in brief
Orthex (ORTHEX, Nasdaq Helsinki, Finland) is a leading Nordic houseware company. Orthex offers a broad assortment of practical and durable household products with a mission to make consumers’ everyday life easier. Orthex main consumer brands are SmartStore™ in storage products, GastroMax™ in kitchenware and Orthex™ in home and plant care categories. Orthex aims to be the industry forerunner in sustainability and to become carbon neutral in its production by 2030. Read more www.orthexgroup.com.
Orthex’s net sales in 2022 were 84.0 million euros. The company has customers in more than 40 countries and local sales offices in the Nordics, Germany, France, and the UK.