Polypropylene (PP) is one of the most abundant plastics used due to its low price, moldability, temperature and chemical resistance, and outstanding mechanical properties. Consequently, waste from plastic materials is anticipated to rapidly increase with continually increasing demand. When addressing the global problem of solid waste generation, post-consumer recycled materials are encouraged for use in new consumer and industrial products. As a result, the demand is projected to grow in the next several years. In this study, material recovery facility (MRF)-recovered post-consumer PP was utilized to determine its suitability for extrusion blow molded bottle food packaging. PP was sorted and removed from mixed-polymer MRF-recovered bales, ground, trommel-washed, then washed following the Association of Plastics Recyclers’ protocols. The washed Post-Consumer Recycled-PP flake was pelletized then manually blended with virgin PP resin at 25%, 50%, 75, and 100% PCR-PP concentrations and fed into the extrusion blow molding (EBM) machine. The EBM bottles were then tested for physical performance and regulatory compliance (limits of TPCH: 100 μg/g). The results showed an increased crystallization temperature but no practical difference in crystallinity as a function of PCR-PP concentrations. Barrier properties (oxygen and water vapor) remained relatively constant except for 100% MRF-recovered PCR-PP, which was higher for both gas types. Stiffness significantly improved in bottles with PCR-PP (p-value < 0.05). In addition, a wider range of N/IAS was detected in PCR-PP due to plastic additives, food additives, and degradation byproducts. Lastly, targeted phthalates did not exceed the limits of TPCH, and trace levels of BPA were detected in the MRF PCR-PP. Furthermore, the study’s results provide critical information on the use of MRF recovered in food packaging applications without compromising performance integrity.

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This work was supported by IAFNS Food Packaging Safety and Sustainability Committee.