At Brau Beviale 2011, we spoke to marketing manager Kinza Sutton - from leading European manufacturer of PET pre-forms and bottles APPE - who lamented the fact that brandowners and fillers expect cheaper prices for rPET products despite relatively high production costs.
Sutton said that APPE (a division of LSB) believed that rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) should be seen as a higher quality product rather than a cut-price alternative to PET.
She said: "The availability of [feedstock] bales is a problem, and the lack of supply means that the price of bales goes up. We then have the process of actually producing rPET of a sufficient quality to include in food contact packaging."
Processing of rPET pre-forms was more intensive than for virgin PET, Sutton explained, and she said that in any other industry a product that was in low supply but high demand would command a premium price.
But this was not the case, Sutton said: "In fact, in this industry we're seeing the opposite. Fillers and brandowners expect rPET to be cheaper than virgin resin ... because it's viewed as a second-hand product."
Another problem, in terms of rPET uptake amongst brandowners and fillers, was a current supply shortage of high quality food grade material, in addition to quality issues, Sutton said.
Industry demand was not an issue, she added: "A lot of brandowners have aspirations to include 25 per cent or above of rPET into their bottling products. So people like Coca-Cola are including rPET on a daily basis. They tend to be the industry leaders, and where Coca-Cola do things most other beverage companies will follow. This has created a huge demand for rPET."
In a speech to the PETnology Europe 2011 conference in Nuremberg just prior to Brau, the plant director of APPE's recycling plant in Beaune, France, Frédéric Blanchard, said that further expansion of his facility was being considered.
However, Blanchard said a lack of post-consumer PET could delay further investment plans, which follow APPE's announcement in March that it had spent €10m on the Beaune site, to increase its output by 40 per cent to 35,000 tonnes.