Three Austrian companies, who have been collaborating throughout the past five years on two interdisciplinary research projects have now reported their results. The three - Renner , a printing company in Neumarkt/Wallersee; recycling firm Walter Kunststoffe GmbH, headquartered in Gunskirchen, Austria; and M2 Consulting GmbH, a consulting firm based in Hartkirchen - have successfully developed a closed-loop method, which is currently being implemented across the sector, to upcycle printed plastic sheet into plastic sheet. The process makes it unnecessary to incorporate any new virgin material to make new printable sheet material. It also brings the companies fully in line with the EU’s 2030 targets.
The solution was originally developed for plant labels but is now available for applications throughout the large-format printing sector. According to the companies, even election campaign posters produced with this system have no need to be disposed of after the election, but can fully 100% recycled into new ones.
Called Circular-Print, the system is based on the Corema technology, developed by recycling machinery manufacturer Erema - another Austrian company. A huge benefit of this technology is the fact that it offers a combination of recycling and compounding in a single step.
The melt is fed directly to a co-rotating twin-screw compounding extruder. This allows a wide variety of additives, fillers, and reinforcing agents to be added for a completely customised plastic recyclate.
The potential of this solution for the printing industry was further demonstrated in December 2020 when it won the Energy Globe Award in the category “Sustainability”.
Now the top recycling solution across the printing industry, the process saves up to 80% of CO2 compared to conventional solutions.
A new certification label has been developed in collaboration with the Johannes Kepler University in Linz that differentiates between printable plastic sheet products based on post-industrial or post-consumer recycled qualities.
In addition, the process has been expanded and modified for implementation is polymer systems other than PP, such as PS, PVC, etc.
Over 50 partners from the printing, recycling, logistics, and sheet manufacturing industries in six different European countries have already registered and are now working with this solution. In 2020, despite the Corona crisis, several hundred tonnes of printed plastic sheet went through this upcycling process.