The "second hand" of plastic bottles – Italian Cuisine


The "2 × 1" in Ferrarelle arrives. No, this is not the usual campaign of discounts to which the supermarkets have accustomed us but a project based on environmental sustainability. Thanks to the new plastic recovery plant, the company is able to produce recycled PET bottles: each two recovered can be produced […]


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The "2×1" comes in Ferrarelle. No, this is not the usual campaign of discounts to which the supermarkets have accustomed us but a project based on the sustainability environmental. Thanks to the new plastic recovery plant, the company is able to produce bottles in Recycled PET: every two recovered a new one can be produced. The countdown to the arrival on the market of bottles of Ferrarelle obtained for 50% from PET recycling, has already begun. We need only the latest authorization from EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority), which should arrive by the end of 2019. On the project "Bottle to bottle" Ferrarelle has invested so much (34 million of euros only for the new plant) and thought big: the structure of Presenzano, in the province of Caserta, not only meets the needs of the company, but realizes recycled plastic also for other uses (from construction to clothing, fromfaux leather to the objects of furniture) and has a production capacity equal to twice the PET which Ferrarelle uses in a year.

The novelty: recycled and "home made" bottles
Ferrarelle's choice is pioneering for the world of food, and not just Italian. No other mineral water company has its own plant to manage the cycle integrated of PET recovery. TO Presenzano plastic waste arrives from the circuit of separate waste collection throughout Italy. Here, after having appropriately selected and treated them, new bottles are obtained, made up of 50% by Recycled PET (the so-called R-PET). For now we cannot go because the Italian law is more rigid than in other European countries. But the goal is to raise this threshold, as is permitted in many European countries.

From the box to the table (and vice versa)
They look like installations of "pop art", the large cubes of bottles of drinks, crushed and compressed, coming from the circuit of the separate collection and piled in the external courtyard of the plant of Presenzano. Looking at them it is difficult to think that they can obtain something good. And yet it is so. Everything starts from a premise: PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is fully recoverable and today in Italy has a rate of 40% recycling about. But Italian law sets limits on the use of PET "second hand": can represent at most the 50% maximum of new containers in PET. This is why the new Ferrarelle water bottles will be only half R-PET. And that's why this establishment doesn't just serve to satisfy the need of the company but realizes recovery plastic materials destined to other uses, food and not. In fact, the flow of incoming PET is substantial: only in the first seven months of 2019 were they 4,500 tons that, when fully operational, they will become 23 thousand. That is the equivalent of 800 thousand bottles in recycled plastic every year.

What is behind a bottle of R-PET
The PET journey in the plant is forced: we start with the separation of the labels and with a prewash, to then move on to the selection of the material to eliminate the "unwanted" ones. At this point the selected PET is ground in water mills. You get one chip, similar to that of soap. Separated from the one obtained from the caps (which are made of a plastic material different from the bottles and are intended for different uses), the one in PET it is washed, dried, and again selected and controlled. Finally, it is separated by type and color (there is a precise point of green, the green Ferrarelle) and treated with heat and empty to make it suitable for contact with food. And after all this process, the recycled PET scale is ready to be mixed with that "new" to make the preforms, that is the like test tubes (but of maxi dimensions) that represent the embryos of the new bottles, then produced in the two plants of bottling of Ferrarelle.

Manuela Soressi
October 2019


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