borealis polypropylene recycling
Borealis foresees numerous end markets for the type of recycled-content polypropylene pictured here.
Photo provided by Tomra Sorting Recycling.

Tomra equips Borealis European recycling effort

Austria-based plastics producer uses Tomra sorting equipment to help it recycle more postconsumer plastic packaging.

January 15, 2021

Austria-based plastics producer Borealis and European sorting equipment maker Tomra have opened what they call a “state-of-the-art” plant for postconsumer plastic scrap sorting and mechanical recycling. They say the plant in plant in Lahnstein, Germany, is the result of “a partnership that marries chemistry with technology for unsurpassed results.”

“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,” says Volker Rehrmann, executive vice president and head of circular economy at Tomra.

Adds Rehrmann, “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.”

States Lucrèce Foufopoulos, a Borealis executive vice president, “This plant embodies the principles of the EverMinds platform founded by Borealis, which seeks to innovate plastics circularity through collaboration. 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 reinvent for more sustainable living.”

Operation of the plant is a joint enterprise between Tomra, Borealis and waste and recycling management firm Zimmerman. Borealis has focused on the plastics compounding aspects, with Tomra providing sorting technology, while Zimmerman is responsible for daily operations and end-product quality.

The plant processes both rigid and flexible plastic scrap from households. It will strive to produce resins the firms describe as high purity and low odor, with high product consistency and light color fractions. The resins will be marketed as Borcycle M-branded recycled-content polymers. “The purpose of this demo plant is to generate material for brand owners and converters to qualify, validate and prove fit for use in their highly demanding applications. Technical success will set the groundwork for a commercial-scale advanced recycling plant,” say the companies.

“At P&G we are making packaging with the ‘next life’ in mind to help drive a more robust circular economy,” says Gian De Belder, a technical director at Procter & Gamble. “We must increase the supply of high-quality recycled plastic to enable the industry to deliver on this vision. The innovative new approach that Tomra and Borealis are taking shows potential to step-change both the quantity and quality of PCR (postconsumer resins) available for our brands and help us to achieve our 2030 goal to reduce our use of virgin plastic in packaging by 50 percent.”