PET recycling: towards a circular economy

The importance of professional sorting systems for effective recycling

For recycling to fulfil its role in addressing the plastic waste issue in the PET industry, it needs efficient processes and high-quality end-products that can compete with virgin materials on the market - this is precisely where Stadler can make all the difference: “We understand the process technology for the entire life cycle of the material,” explains Roland Göggel. “This means that we can design the optimal combination of technologies and use them more effectively in terms of the cost-benefit considerations of the customer. Very importantly, Salways has overall responsibility on the project, so that we always provide our customers with expert know-how on every aspect of the process.”

Recycling management company RCS Rohstoffverwertung  GmbH, based in Werne, Germany, has first-hand experience of the advantages of Stadler’s expertise. Alexander Rimmer, Joint-CEO of RCS, says: “Stadler offered us the complete package, from project planning to the construction of the modernization of the entire plant, managed and implemented by their staff. We particularly appreciated their technical know-how and the support during the entire project. Their advice was flawless and they offered us great technical experts who advised not only on the technology and processes, but also on the implementation possibilities specifically adapted to our technical requirements with good solutions to problems."

This project also shows how Stadler is always anticipating the evolution of the recycling industry. Having seen how PET bottle manufacturers had changed the packaging, increasingly using “full-body” sleeves, it identified a new need: removing the label before sorting. To address this, it developed a new Label Remover, which was included in the RCS project at the beginning of the line to the great satisfaction of Alexander Rimmer: "With the Stadler Label Remover the labels are stripped off and the PET bottles are less damaged than with other manufacturers. As a result, we can register less fine abrasion.”  

Closing the recycling circle

Used PET bottles can be a valuable resource for the packaging sector and other industries, and can play an important role in addressing the environmental impact of plastic.  However, it remains underused in many areas. Stadler has seen an opportunity to close the recycling circle and has partnered with Krones, a well-established name in the food and beverage industries.

The two partners aim to harness the advantages of plastics recycling for customers around the world to benefit customers as simply and profitably as possible. “We want to provide our customers with the highest quality material output in the industry,” explains Willi Stadler, CEO of Stadler. Together, Stadler and Krones will offer a complete package, from sorting through to the washing process, and all the way to the creation of a new plastic product: “this cooperation partnership enables us to offer process engineering from heterogeneous waste mixtures to the finished plastic bottle,” explains Roland Göggel. “As far as I know, no other company on the market can offer this extensive process competence. Having the entire processing under one roof means that the concepts can be improved and adapted even more specifically to the task at hand, both qualitatively and economically. And we can offer solutions not only for plastics such as PET, but also for mass plastics such as PE, PP or PS, making an important contribution towards achieving the EU recycling targets.

”The partnership not only aims to offer customers the two partners’ tried-and-tested solutions as complete single-sourced turnkey plants, but also develop jointly new solutions, processes and technologies for the sorting and treatment of waste. By combining their specialist expertise and technologies, Krones and Stadler expect to generate significant momentum for recycling technology and the associated circular economy.