APR Recognizes BarrierGuard OxygenSmart Bottle Recyclability

Ring Container details the unusual process confirming the PET barrier bottle’s design for curbside circularity and what it means for brands, consumers, and recyclers.

December 1, 2022

4 Min Read
Image courtesy of Ring Container Technologies

Plastic container manufacturer Ring Container Technologies announced November 30 that BarrierGuard OxygenSmart, a bottle technology designed to protect both product freshness and the environment, received Critical Guidance Recognition from The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).

A program for assessing recyclability in plastic packaging design, APR's Critical Guidance Recognition is presented to companies for products that solve well-established challenges in sustainable package design. BarrierGuard OxygenSmart has met the high standards for clear PET resins and molded articles, supporting the APR’s design for circularity.

“While traditional barrier systems typically inhibit single stream recycling efforts, our proprietary barrier technology is the first of its kind to be formally recognized by APR as being non-detrimental to the clear PET recycling stream,” says Brian Smith, president and COO, Ring Container. “BarrierGuard OxygenSmart represents a significant R&D investment that took years to develop. The new technology is representative of Ring’s commitment to innovative sustainable packaging solutions.”

“APR’s Critical Guidance Recognition Program is the gold standard for determining the effect of an innovation on the quality of the plastic recycling stream,” says Steve Alexander, APR president and CEO. “We commend Ring Container Technologies for the development of their BarrierGuard OxygenSmart technology, which has received Critical Guidance Recognition, a first for materials of this type.”

Due to the bottle’s uniqueness, the APR approval process took three years.

APR’s critical guideline review involved several steps over several years’ time, according to Smith.

“In all, Ring has been working with APR for the past three years to obtain formal recognition, which occurred on November 11, 2022,” he tells PlasticsToday. “The certification process started with Ring entering into an agreement with APR for reviewing the innovative materials. The innovation was so unique that the APR did not have a clear path to formal recognition. We had to work with the APR to create a path for BarrierGuard OxygenSmart and any barrier products developed in the future that can meet APR’s high standards for clear PET resins and molded articles. After this new path and testing protocols were adopted by the APR, a blind Review Committee analyzed our technology and determined that BarrierGuard OxygenSmart met the critical guidelines for formal recognition. We are thrilled to be recognized as the first barrier of its kind. The rigid PET market now has a recyclable barrier solution that can block up to 30% more oxygen versus competitive barrier systems, while using two and a half times less barrier material on average.”

BarrierGuard OxygenSmart can be customized to achieve up to a 24-month shelf life with a range of products including ketchup, other tomato-based sauces, salsas, instant coffee, nuts, and baby food among others. 

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Bottle brings benefits to brand owners, consumers, and recyclers.

The bottles arrive at brands’ packaging operations with key benefits already built-in.

“Brands can easily manage their inventory of containers with BarrierGuard OxygenSmart,” says Tim Ferrel, VP of business development. “Traditional PET containers with barrier begin to expire as soon as the container is blown. BarrierGuard OxygenSmart begins working once product is filled and the container is sealed. This allows customers to handle our containers like any other PET bottle, a critical benefit that simplifies how brands manage their production schedules and supply chains.”

This certification provides brands with several options for on-package messaging to highlight the bottle’s recyclability.

“The fact the product is so unique means brands can highlight several features to draw attention to the sustainability benefits,” Ferrell tells us. “BarrierGuard OxygenSmart earned the How2Recycle 'Widely Recycled' label with broad acceptance in curbside programs. Consumers have become increasingly aware of the need to recycle packaging. Having the H2R notation on labels provides needed consumer education for proper recycling.”

Only the typical preparations are needed to prepare the empty and cleaned bottles for curbside recycling. “If the proper cap and label are used the entire container can be placed in the recycle system with no detrimental impact to the clear recycle stream,” Ferrell adds.

The bottle is also beneficial for recyclers, according to Ferrell. 

The circular design of BarrierGuard OxygenSmart means less waste and consistent reuse of materials that promote a healthy PET recycling stream for recyclers, processors, and converters,” he says. “BarrierGuard OxygenSmart containers can also utilize post-consumer recycled content without impacting barrier performance. The ability to include rPET with packaging requiring barrier creates demand for recyclers post-consumer bales of PET. Recyclers have confidence that containers made with BarrierGuard OxygenSmart will not contaminate bales and cause excessive yellowing downstream in their finished product.”

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