Knowing as best as possible each stage in the life cycle of a product, from its collection and first transformation until, finally, it is acquired on the shelf of some establishment by the end customer, is very important. And not only to know if it is possible to improve productivity or to avoid possible incidents, but because it is very important to be able to guarantee that there has been the least possible impact on the environment. In all this, traceability plays a decisive role, which is the specific control system of the different evolution processes of a product throughout its different stages.

In the case of plastic, knowing its traceability contributes decisively to improving environmental sustainability and supporting the global objectives of the Circular Economy. However, plastic recycling is a complex process, which requires investment in infrastructure and institutional support to be able to unleash its full potential. If fully implemented, the benefits for consumers and for society itself are undeniable.

Knowing the traceability of plastic contributes decisively to sustainability and the Circular Economy

In this sense, rPET plastic allows solid waste to be given a new life, caring for the environment and betting on sustainable development. This material is based on thermoformable monolayer sheets and is made entirely from post-consumer recycled materials. Among other benefits, it provides transparency, resistance, or optimal interaction with food.

For example, Repetco offers its own patented system, which is respectful of nature, through post-consumer food multilayer PET/PE containers. Through a unique process, rPET pellets and rPE are generated that can be used again in the food industry with trays and containers made of multilayer PET/PE sheets; in bottles for soft drinks or detergents; and in fibers for the textile and automobile industry. 

Technology support

Analyzing and parameterizing the traceability in plastic recycling ensures that the new material generated has the appropriate quality to be reused by the consumer, offering full guarantees. For this reason, public institutions implement stamps and codes that verify all the stages that each batch of product has gone through, establishing the date and place of origin.

Advances in technology allow codes to already have a chemical origin, so that if an anomaly is detected in the product, the barcode incorporates it automatically, making it possible to verify its status by means of a reader. Uniting this advance with, for example, Blockchain technology, maximum quality in recycling processes is ensured. Thanks to this tool, only if the standards set by the regulator are met can the product go to its next traceability phase. And all this mechanically and without the need of human intervention, something very remarkable when working with huge volumes of product, such as with plastic.

Long term benefits

The introduction of these technological advances is an increasingly present reality in the recycling industry. Not surprisingly, the objectives in this field set by Europe are very ambitious. It should be remembered that, among the challenges set on Circular Economy, is that by 2025 50% in the volume of recycling of plastic containers is reached. In Spain, the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge has set itself a challenge to reach 60% in 2030.

Plastic is a difficult material to manage as waste, which is why a firm and determined commitment to innovation is required.

The main problem is that, even today, plastic is a difficult material to manage as waste, which is why a firm and decisive commitment is required in favor of innovation to extend realistic ways in its management and reuse. At stake is, for example, considerable savings in the use of energy and oil, as well as the reduction in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, mainly in the case of rPET packaging.

In addition, using this type of material for the second time allows reducing the level of plastic waste generation, preserving natural resources and reducing the size and dependence on landfills.

Other articles of interest: Boosting the secondary market for recycled plastic: why Spain needs to double its production