RECYCLING PLASTIC: A GOAL EVERYONE SHARES
Europe’s plastics manufacturers would like to find ways to extend the life of their products indefinitely. Their aim for the year 2020 is to prevent any plastic from going to landfills. It’s a goal shared by numerous European Union countries that have established incentives and requirements for recycling plastic packaging in particular.
ROSTOCK: A MODEL FACTORY FOR RECYCLING PET
Germany is among the most advanced countries when it comes to recycling, and in the city of Rostock, Veolia is converting 1 billion plastic bottles each year into granulate used to make new bottles. Once they are collected and transported to the processing center, the bottles are pre-sorted by color, with their caps and any residual waste removed,. The bottles are then ground into flakes and subjected to a hot wash, processing the flakes into food-grade is achieved by a mechanical-chemical recycling step (Hybrid-UnPET process by URRC). After being purified in a final step and packed into big bags, these PET flakes can be delivered to manufacturers of plastic bottles and manufactured into ”new” PET bottles.
The benefits are striking: more than 31,000 metric tons of oil and thousands of cubic meters of water are saved each year through this process, while reducing costs for the supply and transportation of raw materials.
The US Food and Drug Administration, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute as well as the EFSA and similar organizations have certified that these recycled products fully comply with the principal regulations governing food contact materials in the EU and the US.
In other words, a water bottle recycled by Veolia can be reused safely to hold a beverage. That’s a major step forward in a social responsibility that has always (and rightly) enshrined the precautionary principle and up until very recently prevented the use of recycled materials for direct food packaging.
Managing Director, PET Recycling plant, Rostock
“The technology set-up by Veolia is shortening the plastic treatment process and significantly enhances the economic and environmental benefits of recycling.”
- A guaranteed process
- Health safety
- Improved waste recovery
- Lower processing costs
- Significant carbon footprint reduction
- Increased potential for recovery of packaging
1 billion bottles recycled each year
31,000 metric tons of petroleum saved