LAHNSTEIN - Polypropylene producer Borealis and TOMRA have announced the start-up of their advanced mechanical recycling demo plant in Lahnstein, Germany, which will sort post-consumer plastic waste and produce ready-for-market, fully formulated polymer pellets.
If successfully validated and proven fit for use in highly demanding applications by brands and converters, the demo plant will act as the base for a commercial-scale advanced recycling facility.
The demo plant processes both rigid and flexible plastic waste from households. Unlike many current recycling plants, it will produce the advanced solutions necessary for use in high-demanding plastic applications in various industries, including automotive and consumer products. With high purity, low odour, high product consistency and light colour fractions, these Borcycle M grade recycled polymers will meet customer quality requirements across the value chain, the company said.
“This plant embodies the principles of the EverMinds platform founded by Borealis, which seeks to innovate plastics circularity through collaboration,” said Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis executive vice president Polyolefins, Innovation & Technology and Circular Economy Solutions. “Offering brand owners and converters top quality recycled material, suitable for use in highly demanding applications is Borealis’ latest contribution to a more circular economy of plastics. Life demands progress, and through collaboration we re-invent for more sustainable living.”
Operation of the plant is a joint enterprise between Borealis, TOMRA and Zimmerman. Borealis is responsible for the plant’s commercial success and contributes its expertise in innovation, recycling and compounding while TOMRA brings its knowledge of advanced collection and sorting systems. Zimmerman is a waste management company with experience in sorting multiple types of waste, including plastics, and is responsible for successful plant operations and product quality.
“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,” added Volker Rehrmann, executive vice president and head of Circular Economy at TOMRA. “Having just launched the new Circular Economy Division, it is clear what a large role waste management and pivotal projects like this have on moving towards a sustainable future. We are proud to have initiated one of the most advanced mechanical recycling plants when it comes to post-consumer polymer waste. This will become an important enabler as we accelerate the transformation to a circular economy in the years to come, and we are excited to be a part of this pioneering project.”
In terms of end uses, Gian De Belder, Procter & Gamble (P&G) Technical Director, R&D Packaging Sustainability, said that the approach taken by Borealis had the potential to step-change both the quantity and quality of the raw materials required for its brands. “At P&G we are making packaging with the ‘next life’ in mind to help drive a more robust circular economy. We must increase the supply of high quality recycled plastic to enable the industry to deliver on this vision,” he said. “The innovative new approach that Borealis is taking shows potential to step-change both the quantity and quality of PCR available for our brands, and help us to achieve our 2030 goal to reduce our use of virgin plastic in packaging by 50%, or 300 kilotonnes annually. Early tests of the material looks very promising.”