New funding for recyclable food packaging

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Community group Pact NZ has received funding from the government to provide a piece of equipment that aims to increase the recycle value of household plastics.

The grant allows Pact to acquire a piece of equipment that allows the company to take PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic products and transform them into re-usable products, namely meat trays.

The new equipment, called a decontamination unit, is projected to cost $3mil and will be added to an existing plant in Auckland. 

Eric Kjestrup, executive general manager at Pact Group NZ explained to Te Ao how it works.

The decontamination unit process:

Step 1: Bottles, trays and other recycling are received from the household through their regular recycling.

Step 2: A recycling centre sorts out the different types of plastics  and finds the PET plastic that is taken to another facility.

Step 3: At this facility, the new machine will convert this plastic to a flake, and then to a small plastic pellet.

Step 4: The pellet is then made into a sheet and formed into a tray.

Step 5: Newly-made tray is sold to a retailer which puts meat onto the tray and sells it at a local distributor (Countdown, Pack'n'Save etc).

Step 6: Household uses tray and puts it back in the recycling bin, the process repeats itself. 

The design of the meat tray allows it to be used without having the absorbent pad on the bottom, as is commonly the case.