POLAND – Food packaging and processing company Tetra Pak and Stora Enso, a manufacturer of pulp, paper, and other forest products, are investing €29.1 million (US$39.98 million) in boosting the recycling capacity of beverage cartons in Central and Eastern Europe.  

The investment will see the installation of a large-scale carton repulping line at Stora Enso’s Ostroleka production unit in Poland, tripling the annual recycling capacity of used beverage cartons in Poland from 25,000 to 75,000. 

The increased capacity will enable the recycling of the entire volume of beverage cartons sold in the country, as well as those from neighboring countries including Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. 

According to a statement from the companies, the project will ensure collected cartons are managed in an environmental manner, making full use of the materials resulting from the recycling process. 

Stora Enso is pumping €17 million (US$23.36 million) into the repulping line, while Tetra Pak – along with Plastigram – will invest €12.1 million (US$16.67 million) to build an additional line.  Both lines will be operational by the beginning of 2023.           

The Tetra Pak-funded line will mainly recover and separately recycle the polymers and the aluminium which will be used as raw materials for various end applications. 

The recycled fibres will for instance, be integrated into Stora Enso’s recycled board, while the separated polymers and aluminium will be used to make products such as crates and foils. 

“Today, carton packages are recyclable. They are collected and recycled at scale where waste management and recycling infrastructure is in place. But for us, that’s not enough,” said Charles Brand, president of Tetra Pak Europe & Central Asia. 

“We are seeking opportunities across the entire recycling value chain to improve how cartons get recycled and to develop solutions that effectively recycle all packaging components, including polymers and aluminium.” 

Scholle IPN partners Obbotec to recycle flexible packaging  

“The resulting analysis will help both companies develop next-generation solutions that can truly move the needle toward a circular economy in flexible packaging,”

Ross Bushnell, president and CEO of Scholle IPN. 

Meanwhile, Scholle IPN has partnered with Obbotec to explore and test new chemical recycling methods for flexible packaging. 

Flexible packaging is an important part of food systems across the globe and in the US the material accounts for 18% of the US$145 billion packaging market. 

Its lighter weight allows for the transport of higher volumes of product and requires less materials for production. 

Despite its importance, there is no proper closed-loop system put in place to handle the recycling of flexible packaging. 

Multi-layer high-barrier materials, specifically structures composed of aluminum foil within a polyethylene (PE) laminate, are especially problematic and are usually avoided by recycling companies.  

 Through the partnership, the companies want to address the challenge of flexible packaging recycling. They will reportedly work to engineer and test new chemical recycling methods with a focus on flexible packaging such as pouches and bag-in-box – which are suitable for a variety of food and beverage applications. 

Obbotech is a handy partner in the project as it specialises in advanced forms of chemical recycling technologies for plastics including SPEX (Selective Plastic Extraction) and Hydrocat. 

SPEX can convert a mix of waste plastics into near virgin PE and PP materials, while Hydrocat helps take products which might normally end up in landfills and turn them into useable fuel products. 

Scholle IPN and Obbotec will soon begin joint trials that push a variety of film and fitment products through these technologies. 

“The resulting analysis will help both companies develop next-generation solutions that can truly move the needle towards a circular economy in flexible packaging,” said Ross Bushnell, president and CEO of Scholle IPN. 

Earlier this year, Scholle IPN acquired flexible packaging equipment manufacturer Bossar, building on the companies’ previous work on developing recyclable solutions for pouches. 

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