One of Europe’s leading food processors
ABP Food Group is one of Europe’s leading food processors providing quality beef to thousands of customers across the world since 1954. Their business, lead on quality, efficiency, traceability and sustainability, contributes an estimated €1.3bn each year into the rural economies in which it operates, working with a network of 35,000 farmers.
As leaders in the Irish food industry, they are committed towards the development of sustainable business models and circular economy solutions to source meat production with a lower carbon footprint. As plastic packaging is a key component of their product that allows them to ensure the safe distribution and preservation of meats, ABP Food group is also committed with the development and implementation of sustainable packaging solutions throughout their manufacturing process.
To take action in the matter, ABP was one of the founding members of the Plastics Action Alliance back in 2018. Together with leading agricultural processing and food businesses in Ireland, their goal is to minimise the impact of their packaging waste by converting all their plastic packaging structures to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
High-performance flexible packaging
High-performance flexible packaging is commonly used when there is a need for preservation of oxygen and humidity sensible goods. These packaging items, to provide the required protection, are composed of a mixture of materials among which polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) stands out as the preferred alternative due to its extraordinary performance.
However, this material hinders the reconversion of the waste using standard recycling methods as it is prone to degradation at relatively low temperatures. As a result, APT and ABP Food Group worked together to investigate potential routes for the reconversion of a high-barrier coextruded multilayer film to align to their internal goals as well with the upcoming EU Green Deal legislations.
APT investigated the feasibility for the recovery of high-performance flexible packaging structures using recycling technologies and infrastructure readly available or adaptable at industrial scale. APT did an extensive evaluation through reprocessing using extrusion technology, addition stabilising additives and a suite of characterisation techniques to evaluate the materials. The work confirmed the limitations of PVdC mechanical recycling and validated that the studied packaging structures were a viable low carbon foot print choice for their business.
Direct consultancy project
The ABP & APT Technology Gateway partnership
Findings have validated the film used by ABP Food Group as a commercially available solution due to the low ratio of carbon footprint between the packaging and the value of the preserved good packed. The growing environmental concern around the use and disposal of plastic products is driving the industry sector to take actions to guarantee the responsible use and disposal of resources.
In that sense, the study has provided to ABP Food Group with an updated view of the current situation in Ireland around the recovery of mixed flexible plastic waste. The outcomes of the study increased the knowledge of the packaging structure they use, a valuable contribution that will help them to set realistic and achievable targets to keep moving towards more sustainable packaging designs.
“ABP found this research extremely beneficial and valued the learnings from APT’s work. We have used this research internally for sustainability packaging discussions and with our customers. It was important for ABP to investigate the possibities of waste conversion for the PVdC material used for product to ensure the most sustainable option was chosen. More work has to be undertaken to achieve a sustainable packaging solution.”.
The Technology Gateway Network delivers innovation expertise to industry across Ireland. It is run by Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the Institutes of Technology.
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