Several partners from the flexible packaging supply chain have collaborated on snack packaging that contains 50% recycled plastic and meets stringent food contact requirements.

Launched last year for PepsiCo’s Sunbites brand, the packaging is made by recycling plastic waste into food-grade packaging material. An advanced recycling process – a complementary approach to mechanical recycling – enables the recycled materials to satisfy EU regulatory requirements for food contact packaging, contact sensitive and medical devices.

GreenDot ensured the procurement and supply of post-consumer plastic packaging waste, which was converted into TACOIL (pyrolysis oil) using Plastic Energy’s technology. INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe used the pyrolysis oil as an alternative to traditional fossil feedstock to first produce recycled propylene, before turning it into virgin-quality recycled polypropylene resin at its plant in Lavera, France.

IRPLAST used the resin to turn existing plastic packaging designs into new packaging films that contain 50% of post-consumer recycled materials and meet the food contact performance requirements. Amcor transformed these films into printed packaging that delivers the same technical performance for PepsiCo.

Using these polypropylene films, PepsiCo launched the Sunbites packaging in the UK. The partnership is part of PepsiCo Positive (pep+), the company’s end-to-end transformation, which aims to eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic in crisp and chip bags in Europe by 2030.

“At PepsiCo, we are proud to work with our industry partners towards more sustainable packaging solutions,” says Archana Jagannathan, chief sustainability officer, PepsiCo Europe. “We are excited about the Sunbites new packaging in the UK, and we look forward to learning from this pilot market and expanding it across more countries in the near future.”

The recycled polymer content is certified under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS) scheme, an independent third party certifying that it has been tracked through the production process using mass balance principles and that the claim being made is accurate.

The upcoming EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) is expected to set out ambitious targets for recycling packaging waste for 2025 and 2030 across a range of materials and recycled content targets for plastics. The achievement demonstrates that advanced recycling technologies can play a role in meeting the growing demand for the safe, circular use of recycled materials in food contact products, helping the EU to achieve its 10% recycled content objective for contact sensitive plastic packaging by 2030. 

As well as preventing plastic from ending up in the environment and reducing the use of fossil based raw materials, the circular re-use of ‘end of life’ plastic can also help to reduce total emissions.

“GreenDot has announced a new ambition in Europe to recycle more plastic postconsumer waste into quality circular polymers for food plastic packaging,” says GreenDot CEO Laurent Auguste. “Next to our goal of becoming a feedstock provider for advanced recycling, GreenDot is acting as an enabler of providing pyrolysis oil, working with partners to return plastic waste currently lost from the value chain back into the recycling loop together with our partners.”

Rob Ingram, INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe North CEO, adds “INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe is delighted to play a part in this innovation from PepsiCo. Successfully producing high quality, food contact packaging from plastic waste demonstrates that alongside mechanical recycling, advanced recycling is vital for creating materials that can be used in demanding applications. We look forward to working with partners to leverage the range of solutions our business has invested in to accelerate packaging circularity. Examples include our Recycl-IN hybrid polymer range and new pilot line for fully-recyclable machine-direction orientation films.”

“We are building a future where flexible packaging is part of the circular economy,” says Gerald Rebitzer, sustainability director, AMCOR. “Together with PepsiCo, we enhanced the material technologies on PepsiCo’s new crisp packet to make it easier to recycle. And we are beginning to integrate renewable and recycled content into PepsiCo’s packaging. To meet the demands of our clients like PepsiCo, we encourage more partners upstream to invest in the supply chains of these new materials.”