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Borealis and TOMRA open state-of-the-art plastic waste sorting and advanced mechanical recycling demo plant

Austria-headed Borealis AG, a leading provider of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions, and Norway-headed advanced collection and sorting systems developer TOMRA AS have announced the operational start of their joint advanced mechanical recycling demo plant for post-consumer plastic waste in Lahnstein, Germany.

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The new state-of-the-art plant produces the advanced solutions necessary for use in high-demanding plastic applications (photo courtesy Borealis & TOMRA).

The state-of-the-art plant processes both rigid and flexible plastic waste from households. And unlike many current recycling plants, it will produce the advanced solutions necessary for use in high-demanding plastic applications in various industries, including automotive and consumer products.

With high purity, low odour, high product consistency, and light colour fractions, these Borcycle M grades recycled polymers will meet customer quality requirements across the value chain.

One major challenge towards more circular packaging is the availability of high-quality recycled plastics that can be used in the packaging of our brands. We are, therefore, very excited that this project brings together three proven experts along the value chain with the ambition to lift mechanical recycling to a new level, commented Thorsten Leopold, Director International Packaging Technology Home Care at Henkel.

The purpose of this demo plant is to generate material for brand owners and converters to qualify, validate, and prove fit for use in their highly demanding applications. Technical success will set the groundwork for a commercial-scale advanced recycling plant.

The state-of-the-art plant processes both rigid and flexible plastic waste from households (photo courtesy Borealis & TOMRA).

Operation of the plant is a joint enterprise between Borealis, TOMRA, and Zimmermann. Borealis is responsible for the plant’s commercial success and contributes its expertise and knowledge in innovation, recycling, and compounding.

This plant embodies the principles of the EverMinds platform founded by Borealis, which seeks to innovate plastics circularity through collaboration. Offering brand owners and converters top quality recycled material, suitable for use in highly demanding applications is Borealis’ latest contribution to a more circular economy of plastics. Life demands progress, and through collaboration, we re-invent for more sustainable living, said Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis EVP Polyolefins, Innovation & Technology, and Circular Economy Solutions at Borealis.

Likewise, TOMRA contributes as a provider of technology-led solutions and brings its proven expertise, established process, and market knowledge, which, in turn, enable the circular economy through the advanced collection and sorting systems.

This plant is just the beginning of what’s possible when key players in the value chain come together to make a truly significant impact in the market. Having just launched the new Circular Economy Division, it is clear what a large role waste management and pivotal projects like this have on moving towards a sustainable future. We are proud to have initiated one of the most advanced mechanical recycling plants when it comes to post-consumer polymer waste. This will become an important enabler as we accelerate the transformation to a circular economy in the years to come, and we are excited to be a part of this pioneering project, said Volker Rehrmann, EVP and Head of Circular Economy at TOMRA.

Zimmermann is a waste management company with experience in sorting multiple types of waste, including plastics, and is responsible for successful plant operations and product quality.

At P&G we are making packaging with the ‘next life’ in mind to help drive a more robust circular economy. We must increase the supply of high quality recycled plastic to enable the industry to deliver on this vision. The innovative new approach that Borealis is taking shows potential to step-change both the quantity and quality of PCR available for our brands, and help us to achieve our 2030 goal to reduce our use of virgin plastic in packaging by 50 percent, or 300 kilotonnes annually. Early tests of the material look very promising, said Gian De Belder, Procter & Gamble (P&G) Technical Director, R&D Packaging Sustainability.

The newly opened Borealis-TOMRA demo plant in Lahnstein, Germany, is one of the most advanced mechanical recycling plants when it comes to post-consumer polymer waste (photo courtesy Borealis & TOMRA).

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