28 Septembrie 2023
With the purpose of developing a circular solution for FIBCs (Big Bags), LC Packaging, PET Recycling Team (a member of the ALPLA Group), Starlinger and Velebit Recycling have recently joined forces.
This industry initiative has resulted in the recycling of Big Bags that are used by PET Recycling Team (PRT) and in using the recycled content for producing new Big Bags for PRT.
The first steps to realise this closed-loop FIBC solution (from Big Bags to Big Bags) were taken when Starlinger, supplier of machinery for woven plastic packaging production and plastics recycling, learned about the interest of PET Recycling Team (PRT) with regard to recycling their used Big Bags. PRT is one of Europe’s leading companies for recycling PET material. Soon after, LC Packaging, producer and distributor of Big Bag solutions, and Velebit Recycling joined the conversation. According to Andreas Anderl, Project Manager rPP at Starlinger, “a common goal was easily identified: developing a circular solution for the bags used by PRT”.
PRT uses food-contact Big Bags to transport and store the recycled PET granulate until the converting plant processes the material into preforms as a prior step before new bottles are blown. After the bags have been emptied, they are sent to Velebit Recycling’s facility, where Starlinger’s recycling technology is applied to turn them into Post-Consumer recycled Polypropylene (PCR-rPP) granulate. LC Packaging’s production partner uses this granulate to produce new high-quality big bags for PRT, deploying Starlinger’s specially developed rPP extrusion technology during the process. The loop is closed when these FIBCs with 30% recycled content arrive at PRT for use in a non-food-contact application.
The difference between Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR) that is used in this project and Post-Industrial Recyclate (PIR) is an important one. While Post-Industrial Recyclate refers to recycling of material waste created during the manufacturing process, Post-Consumer Recyclate is material that has been made from packaging that has actually been used, sorted, collected, cleaned and recycled into new rPP granules. In terms of environmental impact, Post-Consumer Recyclate makes the difference.
The established closed-loop solution offers benefits for all parties involved.
Christian Hude-Burian, Plant Manager PET Recycling Team Wöllersdorf, Austria explains: “With this solution, we achieve a significant reduction in waste, since used Big Bags are now turned into new Big Bags that we can use again for our purposes. This helps us to save natural resources and reduce our CO2 emissions.”
For LC Packaging, the project marks one of the first closed loops that has been have set up for rPP Big Bags. According to Thorsten Classen, Managing Director at LC Packaging GmbH, “a big advantage of this project is having access to a continuous stream of premium quality recycled material”.
“With our recycling and extrusion technology, Starlinger acts as the connecting link in this project, providing the high-quality recycled polypropylene and heavy-duty tapes needed for Big Bag production”, adds Andreas Anderl.
Velebit Recycling benefits from a constant material input flow of good quality. “This means that we can run our machines at high efficiency”, says Manfred Pribyl, CEO of Velebit Recycling.
While the recycled material from the PRT Big Bags is currently used for producing non-food grade packaging, the initial bags are safe for food-contact. The next step would therefore be to use the produced recycled material in food-contact bags. This requires materials to be traceable, and each step in the process should be controlled and documented in the right way. Another idea is to extend the loop to include end customers of the ALPLA Group.
As Thorsten Classen explains:“This project shows that if the right parties work together and are willing to invest and pioneer, we can make a significant environmental impact by means of a closed loop solution that delivers benefits for everyone. And we are ready to take on the next challenge together when it comes to realising a food-safe closed loop in the future!”
About ALPLA Group
ALPLA is one of the world’s leading companies in the manufacture, reuse and recycling of plastic packaging. Around 23,300 employees worldwide produce custom-made packaging systems, bottles, caps and molded parts at 190 sites in 46 countries. The high-quality packaging is used in a wide range of areas, including for food and drinks, cosmetics and care products, household cleaning products, detergents and cleaning agents, pharmaceutical products, engine oils and lubricants.
ALPLA operates recycling plants for PET and HDPE in Austria, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Romania and Thailand. Other projects are being realised elsewhere around the world. www.alpla.com
About PET Recycling Team
PET Recycling Team (a member of the ALPLA Group) is one of Europe's leading companies recycling PET materials. In a globally networked world recycling gets to play a more and more important role. From the very beginning our company has been standing for the production of high-quality PET Regranulate, which is manufactured by means of a recycling process. The PET Regranulate is then again primarily used for the production of PET bottles, which leads to a significant reduction of CO2 emissions. www.petrecyclingteam.com
Starlinger is an Austrian machine manufacturing company based in Vienna with production sites in Weissenbach and St. Martin, as well as in Schwerin, Germany and Taicang, China. As the world's leading supplier of machines and complete systems for the production of woven plastic bags, as well as systems for plastics recycling, PET extrusion and finishing, Starlinger is synonymous with quality and technological leadership in more than 130 countries. Founded in 1835, the family-owned company has been exporting its products around the world for more than 50 years and achieves an export quota of over 99.5%. Starlinger has its own sales and service centres in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, the United States and Uzbekistan, each of them guaranteeing swift and professional technical service.
Starlinger is a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and adheres to the principles for responsible business set out therein. www.starlinger.com
About Velebit Recycling
Velebit Recyling is a newly established recycling company in Knin, Croatia, with the main focus on providing a real circular solution for the big bag industry. While post-consumer Big Bags are nowadays recycled and used for less demanding applications (also known as downcycling), the new European packaging regulations are providing an incentive for packaging manufacturers to use a certain share of recycled content in their packaging. To satisfy this new demand the Big Bag industry requires a newly specified high-quality recycled material to meet the high manufacturing standards needed for big bag production. Velebit Recycling aims to serve this niche market and commits itself to these new requirements by using the latest state-of-the-art washing and regranulation technology. www.velebitrecycling.com