New Pilot Plant for Recycled Plastics

A new pilot plant separates post-consumer plastic waste and supplies market-ready polymer materials. Brand owners and processors will have access to test quality and market suitability. Henkel and Procter & Gamble already show interest.

Austrian plastics producer Borealis, Norwegian sorting technology specialist Tomra and German waste manager Zimmermann have commissioned a new pilot plant for mechanical recycling of plastics in Lahnstein, Rhineland-Palatinate. The plant can recycle both film and solid plastic household waste, the companies said. Unlike many other recycling plants, it is said to deliver material suitable for the most demanding plastics applications, including in the consumer goods industry. With its high degree of purity, high product durability and only slight color variations, the “Borcycle M recycled polyolefins” are said to meet customers’ quality criteria along the entire value chain.

The plant will initially generate material that will then be tested for suitability for the relevant applications. Successful technical implementation will then form the basis for an advanced commercial-scale recycling plant. “This plant is just the beginning of what’s possible when key players in the value chain come together to make a truly significant impact in the market,” said Volker Rehrmann, Executive Vice President and Head of Circular Economy at Tomra. “We are proud to have initiated one of the most advanced mechanical recycling plants when it comes to post-consumer polymer waste.”

Henkel and Procter & Gamble show interest

“Early tests of the material look very promising,” praises Gian De Belder, Technical Director, R&D Packaging Sustainability at Procter & Gamble. He says the innovative new approach has the potential to significantly increase both the quality and the amount of post-consumer recycled material available for its own brands. Procter & Gamble ultimately aims to reduce the amount of virgin plastic used for packaging by 50 percent, or 300 kilotons per year, by 2030.

“One major challenge towards more circular packaging is the availability of high-quality recycled plastics that can be used in the packaging of our brands,” explains Thorsten Leopold, Director International Packaging Technology Home Care at Henkel. “ We are, therefore, very excited that this project brings together three proven experts along the value chain with the ambition to lift mechanical recycling to a new level.”

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