PROMOTION: In January 2014 Flight's new plastic packaging plant was opened by Prime Minister John Key celebrating another New Zealand first for Flight in over 100 years of business.
Flight's Lower Hutt plant became the first plastic packaging plant in New Zealand to manufacture food grade PET packaging from imported recycled PET flake (RPET) almost thirty years after been the first New Zealand manufacturer to extrude PET sheet.
Flight now offers a range of RPET food punnets and trays to its customers. However, it must meet compliance standards, so the RPET material is sandwiched between thin layers of virgin PET.
Flight Plastics Director Derek Lander says the decision to introduce RPET plastic packaging was based on the company's experience in the UK and independent research conducted in New Zealand to assess consumer demand.
"Research showed that 87% of New Zealanders wanted their packaging to be recyclable and to contain, where possible, recycled materials. That's been our experience in the UK too where the majority of what we produce at our UK plant now uses recycled PET flakes. Being able to manufacture RPET plastic products here at the exact size and volume required means we can respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demands."
The next major step for Flight is to install a wash plant to produce the RPET flakes from PET drinks containers and food packaging collected at kerbside around the country. Over 10,000 tonnes of PET packaging is collected from homes each year for recycling but sent overseas for processing.
Mr Lander says: "Producing RPET packaging was stage one and has shown that brands are interested in a much more sustainable product made from recovered packaging waste. Stage 2 will be even more exciting. With funding support from the Government's Waste Minimisation Fund, in 2016 we plan to introduce a PET wash plant which can take and process locally the PET containers and bottles which are put out for recycling at kerbside and use locally produced RPET flake to manufacture our packaging."
What is PET?
PET stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate and is typically identified on packaging as Plastics Code 1. RPET is the acronym for recycled PET.