KHS innovative ‘Direct Print PET bottles’ are now fully recyclable

The first digital Direct Print Powered by KHS™ printing process for PET bottles has now again been certified by the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP), as the bottle is now fully-recyclable. This is the 2nd sustainable and environmentally-friendly innovation from KHS and NMP Systems to be approved by the initiative within a very short time.
It was not long ago that we found it impossible to add printed bottles into the recycling process. However, the research carried out by KHS and its partners on development in this field has since paid off with the Direct Print Powered by KHS™ been granted interim certification from an official body.
The recyclability of the award-winning direct printing process was first certified by the EPBP in 2013 and has now been reconfirmed. This means that an independent organisation has clearly attested that PET bottles processed by Direct Print Powered by KHS™ have no negative impact on the rPET (recycled) and are thus officially approved for bottle-to-bottle PET recycling.
During development, the experts had to overcome one specific challenge before the printed containers could be certified for the recycling process. “The washing water must not be contaminated during the recycling process,” said Martin Schach, Head of the Printing Technology Department at KHS GmbH. “The ink must also not deposit itself on the crushed PET bottles.” KHS has managed to develop a digital printing process with low-migration, LED UV-curing inks for the food-safe decoration of PET bottles where the print reliably flakes off during the recycling process.
Current laboratory tests for the Belgian market, where recycled PET bottles were examined for chemical residues in random checks, confirm the safety of the process. Here, printed PET bottles from Martens Brouwerij had been fed into the recycling chain. In 2015, the Belgian brewery was the first beverage producer to launch PET bottles with Direct Print Powered by KHS™ and since then, the technology has been further developed for the customer. These further developments include a higher print quality and new forms of decoration, resulting in a level of flexibility which enables the print on each separate bottle to be individualised through the use of different motifs. An additionally developed printed image inspection system also ensures a higher standard of quality during industrial production.
In addition to the attractive marketing options that this technology offers, Schach also sees a number of other advantages for customers. “Costs for production will fall in the long term as there’s no longer any need for labels and the storage thereof and no more adhesive is needed. Direct Print Powered by KHS™ is also a step forward when it comes to environmental issues.”
As a global company, KHS continues to do justice to its pioneering role regarding sustainability and its innovations support the beverage and food industries in the protection of the environment.
Besides Direct Print Powered by KHS™, Nature MultiPack™ by KHS and NMP Systems was also recently granted interim approval. In this form of packaging PET bottles no longer require a secondary packing of film as they are joined and held together by dots of adhesive only. This specially developed adhesive has also been certified.
The EPBP is a voluntary, industry-related initiative which provides PET bottle design guidelines for recycling, among other information. It assesses new PET packaging systems and technologies and considers their effect on the recycling process and tests and certifies these according to strict guidelines.
NMP Systems GmbH, based in Düsseldorf, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of KHS GmbH. The company is responsible for the global marketing of Nature MultiPack™ and Direct Print Powered by KHS™, 2 innovative, sustainable and future-proof PET packaging systems developed by KHS.