mechanical recycling

Pilot plant for plastic recyclate to optimize circular economy

Tomra Sorting Systems and Borealis have started up their state-of-the-art mechanical recycling pilot plant in Germany. It separates post-consumer plastic waste there for the first time and delivers market-ready polymer materials.

"The plant embodies the principles of the -platform founded by Borealis to research innovations in the field of circular plastics," explains Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation & Technology and Circular Economy Solutions. "We offer brand owners and converters high-quality recycled material that can be used for the most demanding applications."

The facility can recycle both film and solid plastic household waste. And unlike many other recycling plants, it delivers advanced material solutions needed for plastics applications in numerous sectors, such as consumer products and automotive applications. With their high purity, low odor, high product durability and slight color variations, the recycled polyolefins meet customers' quality criteria along the entire value chain.

The purpose of this demo plant is to manufacture products for brand owners and converters and to test and prove their suitability for the demanding applications. Successful technical implementation will form the basis for an advanced commercial-scale recycling facility.

"This facility is just the beginning of what is possible when key players in the value chain come together to make a truly sustainable, significant impact in the marketplace," said Volker Rehrmann, Executive Vice President and Head of Circular Economy at Tomra. "Having just launched the new Circular Economy Department, it is clear what a big role waste management and key projects like this play in moving towards a sustainable future. We are proud to have taken the initiative. The plant is one of the most advanced mechanical recycling facilities for post-consumer polymer waste. It is and will be a key enabler for us to further accelerate the shift to a circular economy in the coming years, and we are pleased to be a part of this pioneering project."

The plant will be jointly operated by Borealis, Tomra and Zimmermann. Borealis is responsible for the commercial success of the plant, contributing its expertise and extensive knowledge in innovation, recycling and compounding. Tomra, a provider of technology-driven solutions, contributes its in-depth expertise and extensive process and market knowledge, which in turn contributes to the circular economy through advanced collection and sorting systems. Zimmermann is a waste management company with experience in separating various types of waste, including plastics, and is responsible for successful plant operations and product quality.

"At P&G, we make packaging for the 'next life' to drive a more robust circular economy. We need to increase the supply of high-quality, recycled plastic to help the industry achieve this vision," said Gian De Belder, Procter & Gamble (P&G) Technical Director, R&D Packaging Sustainability. "The innovative new approach that Borealis is taking has potential to significantly increase both the quality and the amount of PCR available to our brands and help us reach our 2030 goal of reducing the amount of virgin material used in packaging by 50 percent, or 300 kilotons per year. The first product tests have been really promising!"