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At Limay in France, SUEZ manufactures plastic food packaging from recycled PET plastics

SUEZ set up a process at Limay, Île-de-France, to recycle the PET in plastic bottles and make it suitable for food contact. The France Plastique Recyclage plant produces recycled PET of a quality similar to new PET and therefore fully satisfies the principle of the circular economy, offering mineral water companies savings in packaging costs. The procedure used complies with the strictest sanitary requirements in Europe and allows a significant reduction in water and energy consumption.

The mission

Recycle plastic bottles for food use

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is recyclable plastic mainly used for food packaging.
For many years, the re-generation of this plastic only enabled its use in non-food applications, such as textile fibres. Mineral water producers, who sell water in bottles also seek to make their packaging environmentally sound, and therefore like using recycled plastic.

So in Limay, Ile de France region, SUEZ and PAPREC group developed a process to recycle PET plastic and make it suitable for food contact.
50
%
of plastic bottles are currently recycled
75,000
tonnes
estimated demand for recycled PET suitable for food use in France (750,000 tonnes in Europe).
Our solution

Produce recycled PET of a similar quality to virgin PET

The cooperative project between two leaders in recycling, SUEZ and the PAPREC group, aims to:

  • encourage the use of recycled PET or r-PET in consumer products,
  • reduce the environmental footprint of plastic packaging.

The first "bottle-to-bottle" plant was opened in June 2009 in the Paris region, namely France Plastiques Recyclage (FPR). It aims to:

 

  • Produce r-PET of equivalent quality to new PET
    Using plastic bottles collected from the public on behalf of municipal authorities, the plant produces recycled resin with the same properties as the virgin plastic. 
    The process is as follows:
    1. Selective collection of packaging by specific vehicles
    2. Bottles are separated in sorting centres and packaged in bales
    3. The bales are transported to the FPR facility 
    4. The bales are processed and transformed into pellets of r-PET through a process of poly-condensation
    5. The pellets are delivered in tanker trucks to mineral water suppliers or pre-formers (who manufacture the bottle forms) 
    6. New bottles suitable for food contact are produced

  • Reduce packaging costs for mineral water suppliers
    The inclusion of recycled PET with virgin PET (between 20% and 50%) generates significant savings in the use of fossil materials and therefore reduces the production costs for plastic bottles. 

  • Respect sanitary standards to protect consumers
    The process used complies with Europe's strictest sanitary requirements, notably those of French Health and Safety Standards Authority AFSSA. Quality control is performed at each step of the process by the dedicated ISO 9001-certified laboratory on site.
The results
The FPR facility is a shining example of the circular economy. Leading-edge technology enables a 50% reduction in water and energy consumption compared to usual PET recycling processes. 

FPR delivers a recycled product with a quality close to that of virgin PET and obtained AFSSA approval for the full decontamination of its r-PET. The recycled material of similar quality to virgin PET is mixed in with virgin materials to produce new bottles suitable for food use. It is also used for other applications in pharmacology or cosmetic sectors. 

SUEZ and the PAPREC group are committed to providing guarantees to municipal authorities and businesses, in performance, social and environmental responsibility. The construction of this new facility enabled the creation of sustainable, local jobs in an employment catchment area hit hard by crisis. Located in Limay, in the Paris region, the facility receives the majority of its incoming materials by river. The 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes that can be transported by barge are equivalent to 300 to 600 truck loads. In this way FPR contributes to reducing road traffic and significantly lowers its carbon footprint. 
40,000
tonnes
of PET plastic bales are received each year at the France Plastiques Recyclage facility
30,000
tonnes 
of recycled PET pellets are produced annually by the FPR facility
80
stable jobs created in the area by the FPR plant.
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