dispatches from European Bioplastics conference

Focus must be on higher content of recyclates – EREMA

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Gerold Breuer presenting at the European Bioplastics conference
Gerold Breuer presenting at the European Bioplastics conference

Related tags Recycling Plastic Waste

The focus for plastics recycling must be more and more on higher content of recyclate in products, according to EREMA.

The firm also said recycling needs to be considered at product design stage instead of as one of the final steps.

Gerold Breuer, head of marketing and business development at the firm, said targets should move away from a focus solely on collection to objectives such as a minimum content of recyclate in plastic products.

“At the moment the focus is on collection rates, that is important of course, but the material needs somewhere to go,” ​he told FoodProductionDaily.   

“I think the best way to go for Europe is to create the value in Europe, if you do not export the value of the secondary raw material the best thing would be if we recycle it in Europe and if we bring it in products such as the Pritt glue and collection roller from Henkel.

“So this is made from nearly 100% of polystyrene recyclate, this even has a brand name called procyclen from Interseroh and these are great examples and the plastic industry should be aware of it and the brand owners, which we see in some cases already happens, and that is a great chance and opportunity.”

Recycling technology

Breuer explained how its INTAREMA recycling system works during the European Bioplastics conference.

He said it has sold more than 120 of them which were launched at K Show, Dusseldorf in 2013.

“The input materials come in the pre-conditioning unit, there they are cut, heated up, degassed and homogenised, buffered and they are dosed directly to the extruder.​ 

“This dosing is very important because it is a warm feeding, the material comes warm to the extruder which means the material is then extruded with the minimum of shear and this warm feeding allows a gentle, smooth recycling process which is important for the quality of the recyclate.”  

EREMA's Counter Current system

The central technology of INTAREMA is the patented Counter Current system which shows its impact in the border area of the cutter/compactor and tangentially connected extruder. 

Inside the cutter/compactor the rotation of the rotor disc forms a rotating spout so that the material is always circulating. 

In the Counter Current system the material spout – unlike the previous technical standard – moves against the direction of the extruder. 

The speed of the material in the intake zone, i.e. when passing from the cutter/compactor to the extruder increases so that the extruder screw acts in the same way as a sharp cutting edge which cuts the plastic.

Bioplastic recycling

In principle the system was built for thermoplastic materials –so PE, PP, PS, ABS, PET, polyamides and the firm also has experience in bioplastics., said Breuer.

“We have had bioplastics projects for about 15 years. We have run on our machines nearly every bioplastic that is on the market starting from Mater-Bi (Novamont) to PLA from NatureWorks and so on.

“It’s just plastics, let’s put it like this, if you know the properties you can extrude it very well also in a recycling extruder and also some customers know how to handle these materials as they are coming up more and more.”

End of life options include recycling, burning or landfill, said Breuer, but as conference attendees heard from other talks, landfill is not an option for the future.

“Burning is an option if the waste stream you have in your hands is not really pure. If you have a mixture of many different plastic materials with organic waste and so-on then burning is an option, a better option than landfilling as you create energy,” ​he said.

“The best option is mechanical recycling but it’s important to get a relatively pure waste stream, especially in Europe we have really good collection systems so we have PP, PS, LDPE film waste stream.

“So this is a great economy with more than 1,000 companies working in the recycling business, 30,000 employees and capacities of three million tonnes it is already a huge industry and will be getting more and more in my opinion in the future.”​ 

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