Copefrut develops materials recyclability index

The new tool quantifies the recyclability of packaging to allow more strategic decision making

Copefrut de Chile has developed a new tool to help you better understand how different types of packaging can be integrated into recycling flows.

"The Material Recyclability Index quantifies the recyclability of packaging, considering not only what type of materials are being used, but also how they affect the products (inks, glues, waxes) that are applied to them and what is the effective probability of recycling in the different countries to which the materials are sent, ”said Daniela Quiroga, project engineer at Dictuc's GreenLab Research Center at the Catholic University of Chile, who helped develop the tool.

This last point, he explained, is of vital importance since "it is useless for a material to be optimal for recycling if there is no technology or the necessary incentive for it to be recycled."

Sustainable packaging is beginning to replace traditional packaging, a trend that has gone hand in hand with what customers want and that has also gained momentum thanks to the commitment of companies from all sectors, which currently guarantee both compliance with standards as input from their organizations. a real contribution.

According to the World Health Organization, for packaging to be considered sustainable, it must use “the least amount of materials and only essential packaging; less volume and weight; less use of plastic; sustainable life cycle from manufacturing to transport, through subsequent recycling, used energy and water; reuse; low impact on workers' health; and materials that do not include chemicals dangerous to human or animal health ”.

Plastic is one of the biggest vestiges of the fruit and vegetable industry. It appears in various processes within the production chain and although there are more and more technologies aimed at making it ecological, there is still a lot of work to be done in this area.

Copefrut has been one of the pioneers in the move towards more sustainable packaging in the fruit industry. "We understand that sustainability is no longer an option, but rather an issue that we must develop for the good of our customers, our employees and the planet," explained María José Castillo, the company's supply manager.

In addition to incorporating into its operation oxo-biodegradable bags, macroplastic containers, Chep pallets, boxes and 100% recyclable corner pieces, this year Copefrut packed two containers using 100% compostable sugarcane bags for the first time. .

The bags were manufactured by Bio4pack from Germany, who worked with a multidisciplinary team from Copefrut to develop the technology for packaging organic apples.

"Plastics with these characteristics can be converted into organic compost, also known as compost, and its main characteristic is that at least 90 percent of the material degrades in a maximum period of six months, thus managing the end of the life of the product with a circular approach ”, explained Castillo.

The project was the first to be evaluated using the new Recyclability Index, prepared with the advice of Dictuc. It found that replacement materials increased the recyclability of each individual sale by 1,4 percent, a value that can have a significant impact on the company's overall recyclability as the proportion of sales in this format increases.

"Copefrut is in charge of making a complete analysis, both of the recyclability - which by their nature have the materials that are being used - and of the existence of the necessary channels for their recycling at the destination", said Daniel Quiroga of Dictuc's GreenLab .

“The use and analysis of this indicator will make it easier for the company to identify where it should put efforts to improve the recyclability of its packaging, significantly increasing the probability that they will be recycled and approaching its sustainability objectives efficiently and effectively. »

The Index, which is dynamic in its application, will allow “to evaluate and analyze the percentage of recyclability of each of our materials and thus make strategic decisions that push the retail, the market and the industry, in terms of their efforts together with their suppliers. and clients, ”Castillo said.

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