Industry comes together at EREMA Discovery Days 2018

Industry comes together at EREMA Discovery Days 2018

The conference focused on topics such as innovative technologies and the future of the circular economy.

July 5, 2018
Carrie George

Ansfelden, Austria-based EREMA hosted Discovery Days 2018 in Ansfelden, June 27-29. Companies from the plastics sector in Europe, such as Borealis, Engel, Greiner, Haidlmair and Henkel, gave participants insight into their views on sustainably working with plastics.

Besides the answers presented by EREMA regarding plastics recycling, the conference featured a variety of perspectives on the circular economy, an improtant topic in the plastics industry. With this year's Discovery Days, EREMA sought to inspire its attendees to address increasing the use of recycled material in and the recyclability of end products .

At the beginning of the conference, Manfred Hackl, EREMA Group CEO, summed up the challenges facing the industry as follows: "To reach the new European recycling goal of 55 percent by 2030, more than 10 million tons of recyclate have to be used in the end markets. Compared to 2014, this corresponds to more than double the amount of recycled material. To achieve this, we as raw material manufacturers, producers, processors and recyclers together have to identify new markets, make use of previously untapped sources of plastic and foreground and implement even stronger design for recycling in the long term.”

The conference featured a presentation of concrete lighthouse projects in the postconsumer and production scrap recycling sectors, which EREMA says showed how advanced the technical recycling solutions are already.

"As a producer of brand articles, we work systematically together with our partners on optimizing our packaging. In doing so we rely on small amounts of material, which, on the one hand, are made with recyclate and are at the same time recyclable. Resource efficiency and premium products are not a contradiction in terms in our view," says Thorsten Leopold, head of international packaging development, home care, at Henkel, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Attendees were shown the range of end products made of recyclate at the accompanying product exhibition at the EREMA headquarters. From pipes for the construction industry to lifestyle products, such as sunglasses and coffee machines, products containing recycled material have been part of our daily lives for quite some time. High-quality recyclate is essential here, made possible by modern recycling technology, EREMA says. Visitors were able to see this for themselves throughout Discovery Days. EREMA says 10 recycling machines from its and its sister company, PURE LOOP, were in action around the clock.

The conference featured presentations of selected pioneer projects that encouraged communication across the plastic industry. EMER says Engel, Schwertberg, Austria, and Haidlmair, Nussbach, Austria, showed that it is not always necessary to develop existing products to use recycled pellets. Often, all that is needed in the first step is knowledge transfer between producers and recycling specialists.

The idea of the LIT Factory, a public 4.0 pilot facility under the leadership of the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT) at the Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria, showed how production could change in the future. Local companies will be able to try out digitalised production technologies in this test lab and develop business models parallel to them, EMER says.

According to EREMA, the discussion with raw material producers confirmed once again that sustainability is playing an increasing role in company visions. The session titled Circular Economy and Raw Material Producers—Parallel Worlds or a Complementary Concept? enabled participants to outline their own respective strategies for the future. Sustainable end products call for the know-how of raw material producers in combination with the experience of recycling specialists, the session concluded.

Remarks from Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE), Brussels, focused on European initiatives, such as EuCertPlast and RecyClass, that aim to drive uniform quality standards in the use of plastic materials and design for recycling. The European recycling industry can already turn to a wealth of experience in the field of innovative circular economy and has a significant lead as a result, according to Hackl.

"The circular economy is not only an ecological must, it also gives Europe the chance to position itself as a pioneer of the green economy," Hackl says.

Attendees received insight into the activities of plastics companies among the value chain in company visits to Engel and Greiner Packaging, Kremsmünster, Austria. Borealis, Vienna, also invited Discovery Day participants to its innovation headquarters in Linz, Austria, June 28. The tour focused on the processing of recyclable polyolefins and recycled pellets.

The third day was dedicated to trends in reprocessing production waste, EREMA says. Speakers from SML or Brückner confirmed that more and more packaging manufacturers already count on a combined production and recycling solution when investing in new equipment.

With EREMA subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Russia, plus about 50 representatives in five continents, the EREMA Group has a network to realize customized recycling solutions for international customers.