Huntingdon, UK based Enval is providing its microwave induced pyrolysis technology for recycling laminated packaging for a projec being conducted in partnership with Anthesis LRS, SUEZ environnement, Nestlé UK & Ireland, Coca-Cola Enterprises.
Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Action Based Research programme, the nine month trial is targeting locations across the country. Collections and initial sorting are being managed by SUEZ environnement.
Enval will recycle the material at their commercial demonstration facility at the Alconbury Enterprise Zone, near Huntingdon.
The trial will cover 260 households, in local authority areas of Bracknell Forest Council, London Borough of Hounslow and Calderdale Council.
Flexible laminate packaging has been widely adopted by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies to improve product to pack weight ratio, reduce the transport costs and environmental impact attributable to packaging. Its popularity is also driven by the functionality that aluminium provides as a barrier, protecting products from oxygen, moisture and light.
The UK uses more than 160,000 tonnes of flexible laminate packaging each year, containing more than 17,000 tonnes of aluminium. When unrecyclable, this is a problem. However, according to Enval, with a viable recycling solution, life cycle analysis indicates it to be a highly sustainable packaging solution as well as a substantial commercial opportunity, with a potential revenue stream of approximately £200 million a year in Europe from the sale of aluminium alone.
Enval’s patented process is based on a technology known as microwave induced pyrolysis, a pyrolytic process in which microwave energy is used to heat and degrade plastics into useful pyrolysis oils.
The fragile aluminium foil is said to remain undamaged and able to be extracted clean and ready to be reintroduced into the aluminium supply chain. Life cycle analysis shows that the aluminium obtained via this process has a carbon footprint 72% lower than that of primary aluminium.
Enval explained that the project is testing various methods of engaging with residents and collecting the material at the kerbside and said that the results of the trials will help determine best practice to increase the amount of flexible laminate packaging collected and recycled in England.
The trials are also expected to provide insight into how different communications approaches, consumer behaviour and brands influence collection models across different demographics.
“These trials are providing an important opportunity to prove that we can successfully capture and recycle the valuable aluminium, as well as recover the plastics as a fuel oil product,” commented Dr Carlos Ludlow-Palafox, managing director of Enval.
“This will present a solid business case for Enval’s microwave induced pyrolysis technology to be bolted on to existing materials facilities and help increase levels of recycling across the UK,” he added.
Stuart Hayward-Higham, technical development director at SUEZ environnement, commented: “The outcomes of the trials will enable project partners and other industry stakeholders to evaluate the potential to include flexible laminate packaging in mainstream recycling collections in the UK, which SUEZ environnement is keen to explore.”
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