Austria-based Alpla has announced that a new rPET extrusion system will be going into operation in early May 2020 at its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant in Radomsko, Poland. The plant’s capacity to produce rPET regrind material will be doubled from 15,000 to 30,000 metric tons per year, says the firm.
A blog post by Alpla Head of Recycling Georg Lässer says the investment ties into the company’s signing of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment in 2018. That initiative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation “commits us to investing a total of €50 million ($54 million) in pursuit of this aim,” writes Lässer.
He continues, “We take this voluntary commitment seriously and have initiated several international projects, such as the construction of a recycling plant in Thailand. We are also investing in the expansion and improvement of our existing recycling plants. We aim to process even more recycled material for the bottle-to-bottle cycle and make the production processes at our recycling plants more sustainable by means of modernization.”
In Poland, the second rPET extrusion line is scheduled to go into operation in early May. “The 90 employees at PET Recycling Team Radomsko produce 30,000 metric tons of flakes per year from postconsumer material. Of this figure, 15,000 metric tons per year have thus far been extruded to produce regrind material. With the new system, the capacity will increase to 30,000 metric tons per year.”
The “high-quality rPET can then be fed back into the bottle cycle,” adds Lässer. The postconsumer input material comes from Poland and neighboring countries, he adds.
“The new extrusion system is supplied by Austrian firm Starlinger, whose cutting-edge recycling technology Alpla has been using for many years,” writes Lässer.
Says Hermann Adrigan of Starlinger & Co. GmbH, “Alpla is a long-standing and important partner for Starlinger. We are proud that we are able to contribute to the success of the Radomsko site by providing a further bottle-to-bottle PET recycling system.”
In addition to the recycling expansion at the plant, its energy supply has been switched fully to renewables, says Lässer.
The Alpla head of recycling comments, “As an international developer and manufacturer of plastic packaging, Alpla recognized the importance of recycling at an early stage and was already entering into partnerships in the early 2000s. The acquisition of Austrian company PET Recycling Team Wöllersdorf in 2010 and the construction of an in-house recycling plant in Poland in 2012 were milestones on the evolution of Alpla into a recycling specialist.”
He continues, “Demand for recycled plastic has not always been as high as it is today. When the plant in Poland opened its doors in 2013, this was certainly the case, particularly in this region. Back then, there was hardly any awareness amongst consumers and customers regarding the recycling of used materials. Nevertheless, our experts designed the plant with foresight, enabling it to be upgraded quickly and without further construction measures. This approach is now paying off.”
Beata Szynkiewicz, commercial director at PRT Radomsko, comments, “Over the years, [our team] has held its own in a challenging market environment, helping to ensure that PET packaging units are seen as recyclables. Our market is now ready, and with the new setup we are in a strong position to make high-quality regrind material in the most sustainable way possible.”