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FDA Approves Kodak Plan To Recycle Plastic For Food Containers

August 22, 1991

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ An Eastman Kodak Co. subsidiary said Thursday it will recycle bottles and other scrap plastic in what will be the first widespread use of such materials for food packaging.

Kodak’s Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn., will begin manufacturing polyester plastic from recycled bottles in October, said Harry Holliman, general manager of Eastman’s container plastics business.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the plan, said FDA spokesman Emil Corwin.

The FDA has approved similar recycling plans by other companies, but Eastman officials said theirs would be the first commercial use of recycled plastic for food containers.

Eastman will produce about 50 million pounds of recycled plastic a year, Holliman said. That will be enough to produce about 500 million soda bottles a year, company officials said.

Currently, recycled plastic is used only for non-food applications, such as making detergent bottles or carpet fibers.

Most of the materials for the recycled plastic will come from bottles that otherwise would have wound up in landfills, said Eastman spokesman Rod Irvin.

″In theory, there’s no limit to the number of times these bottles can be recycled,″ Irvin said.

Waste plastic such as scrap X-ray film also will be recycled, he said.

The scrap plastic will be processed at Kodak’s polyester recovery division in Rochester. The recycled materials will be shipped to Eastman’s plant in Columbia, S.C., where it will be blended with raw materials. The finished product will be three-fourths new plastic and one-fourth recycled.

That material will be sold to packaging manufacturers, which will use it to make bottles and other containers, Eastman said.

Eastman did not identify potential buyers of the recycled plastic.

Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsico Inc., the two largest soft drink companies, last year expressed interest in using recycled plastic for soda bottles.

Eastman produces about 1.3 billion pounds a year of polyester plastic for packaging. Recycled plastic will make up only 4 percent of that total, although the company may later increase the ratio of recycled plastic it produces, Irvin said.