The plant, which began operating at the end of 2016, has been designed to produce bottle-to-bottle-quality flakes to meet United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) food-contact standards. In its current stage, the plant is processing 2,000 tonnes per month, says Herbold Meckesheim, although the plant has been designed to allow for expansion.
In a multistage process, the bottles are pre-sorted, size-reduced and then washed cold and hot. Two Herbold granulators with a capacity of 1,800 kilograms per hour each (3,970 pounds per hour) are part of the system. After drying, the flakes are forwarded to a flake sorting step.
Herbold Meckesheim says it produced, installed and commissioned the plant. The company says the next expansion step is in preparation and is being designed to produce thermoforming PET film suitable for use in food packaging applications. In another step, a plant has been installed for treating the polyolefin fraction from the recycling process, which is created from the caps and labels of the PET bottles. That plant’s equipment includes a hydrocyclone separator.
Although Honduras has a recycling rate of 84%, according to Herbold Meckesheim, INVEMA nevertheless must import PET bottle scrap to use the plant to its full capacity.
After regranulation, the end product is sold to the regional Coca-Cola bottle producer. “Coca-Cola is enthusiastic about the quality of the regranulate that we produce,” says George Gatlin, the owner of INVEMA.
INVEMA Group has 370 employees in Honduras and another 100 in El Salvador. The company collects, receives, sorts and treats the PET scrap bottles.
Part of the energy needed to power the recycling facilities is produced on site with 3,640 solar panels on the roofs of the plants, which combined can generate 1 megawatt of electrical power.