Since 2018, the AST Group, producer of HDPE plastic containers and drums, has been committed to cleaning and reconditioning used containers to ensure a longer service life for its products and greater sustainability in the production process. Since 2021, the loop has been closed by another piece – a plastics recycling facility (PRF) from Lindner has been processing post-consumer containers, which are then used to produce new drums and containers. As these products are also destined for the hazardous and foods industries, high-quality recyclate is crucial as are optimally coordinated recycling processes.
Circular economy, the Green Deal, recycling quotas, resource conservation, energy efficiency, sustainability – these are the buzzwords we hear each and every day, especially in the recycling industry. After all, our industry is essentially about responsibly managing our environment and its resources as well as the associated effort to retain materials in the economic system at the highest quality and for as long as possible. As a production company, the focus is on product design, durability, recyclability and, in particular in the plastics processing industry, the quality of the recyclate used to manufacture the end product.
Centre of competence for sustainable product manufacturingThe AST Group, in particular the parent company AST Kunststoffverarbeitung GmbH in Erndtebrück, Germany, has been focusing on the circular economy and recycling for some time. Family-run, AST Group is one of Europe’s market leaders when it comes to producing plastic containers for the chemical and food sectors – industries in which high-quality plastic containers and bottles are crucial. From the beginning, the focus was on creating the optimum production loop that would make it possible to increase the recyclate quota for the company’s own products and also use the products made of recyclate in the hazardous and food industries. The stakes were unquestionably high. Nevertheless, a short while later, the first centre of competence for plastics was established and a complete plastics recycling line was installed to process post-industrial and post-consumer HDPE (high density polyethylene). This solution not only significantly contributes to the circular economy, it also ensures the internal supply of raw materials.
Hauke Grabau, Head of the Recycling Division at AST Kunststoffverarbeitung GmbH, in front of the Lindner plastics recycling line. In his hands: one of the many AST containers produced with recycled granulate.
Energy efficiency and qualityWhen it came to the recycling facility, the decision was made in favour of the Austrian industry pioneer Lindner. ‘It was important to us that the facility could process all kinds of materials, from hollow objects to regrind,’ explains Hauke Grabau, Head of the Recycling Division at AST Kunststoffverarbeitung GmbH. ‘When designing the facility, we focused closely on energy-efficient technology that conserves resources. Shredders, mills, various washing steps – including the hot-wash system, which we can switch on depending on the required intensity – are perfectly matched to our requirements,’ says Grabau. Harald Hoffmann, Managing Director of Lindner Washtech, Lindner's subsidiary specialising in plastics recycling, elaborates: ‘The focus during planning was on efficiency and high quality. Thanks to our modular system, the individual components can be ideally adapted to the input material and the degree of contamination. The efficient design with optimal bypass solution also makes it possible to process several material streams.’
The output material is characterised by a particularly high level of homogeneity and purity, which is perfect for subsequent extrusion. As one of only a few recycling specialists, Lindner offers complete solutions, optimally matching the individual process steps of shredding, sorting, washing and drying. ‘We are very pleased and will choose Lindner’s recycling facilities every time. A great team with highly motivated employees, with whom we enjoy a close working relationship,’ says Hauke Grabau.
Depending on the level of contamination, the Lindner hot-wash system can be switched on flexibly. Specifically designed to clean heavily contaminated plastics – the temperature in the washing process ranges from 50 to 85 °C.