Closed-loop recycling

October 02 2019

With the world moving towards a more circular economy, April Waterston finds out how Global-C is fighting the war on single-use plastic

Single-use plastics have become a leading environmental concern and as the debate rages, Global-C is tackling the problem by closing the loop on inflight plastics.

In partnership with manufacturer Færch Plast, Global-C has developed a closedloop recycling system for inflight food containers. The system includes the design, manufacture, delivery, collection, recycling and reproducing of PET and CPET containers. By using this system, up to 90% of inflight containers can be made with recycled materials, and the carbon footprint of the containers can be reduced by up to 50%.

Færch has recently acquired a recycling company called 4PET in the Netherlands. “What makes 4PET different is its ability to clean and sanitise contaminated food containers,” says Wayne Costigan, director of Global-C. “This allows the plastic to be reused in food contact applications – something not every recycling plant has the capability to do.”

Opening up options
All sizes and shapes of meal dishes can be sealed using a variety of films. These can also be branded or colour coded to identify meals. While C-PET containers have become the most popular, foil and board dishes can be sealed in the same way.

Proving its worth
Global-C is currently working with a major Middle-Eastern carrier and is in the proof of concept process of trialling the closed-loop recycling system with a batch of used food containers. The containers were collected and cleaned at the hub, and are currently being transported to 4PET’s recycling plant in the Netherlands. Here they will be recycled, then sent to Færch’s
manufacturing plant in Denmark to be reformed into inflight food containers, and returned to the Middle East.

The trial aims to prove that the systemn is effective. It is anticipated that the money saved from this process will cover the
recycling and transport costs and potentially offer some financial return to the airlines.

Expanding on
Global-C is working with EU customs to allow the import of products consumed outside the EU, and hopes to expand into other regions in the future. 4PET is also expanding its recycling station network to other locations in Europe and the UK.

Global-C won the Onboard Hospitality 2019 Future-scoping Business of the Year for this project and the Best for Sustainability award for the compostable cutlery packs on Virgin Australia