A newly formed company is helping to raise Bulgaria’s recycling profile with its launch of a 30,000tpa post-consumer plastics waste plant on the edge of the capital Sofia.
Integra Plastics, based in Sofia, set up the €40m polyolefins waste processing facility near the small Bulgarian town of Elin Pelin last year. The plant started to turn out a recycled polymer range of granulate including low and high-density polyethylene and polypropylene early this year.
The firm was established at the start of 2018 and is majority owned by Bulgarian entrepreneur Angel Georgiev and his company Betainvest. Georgiev also owns the grain trading company Bildcom and Oliva, a producer of sunflower oil.
Integra’s operation, which currently employs 85, runs round the clock seven days a week sorting, washing, drying and extruding recycled consumer plastics waste drawn largely from Germany. It produces polymer granules in a variety of colours.
The Bulgarian recycler is reported to have entered talks with big players in Scandinavia and the Netherlands to source more scrap plastics and widen its circular impact. It has also opened an office in Thessaloniki, Greece to boost the sale of its production.
Investment finance for the new facility came, in part from bank borrowing and also from Integra group’s own resources. The company reportedly expects to see a return on its investment within seven years.
Integra’s new plant is reported to include 14 Tomra supplied ‘Autosort’ waste processing machines, two of them allow the facility to sort out black colour plastics film.
Recently, Integra’s chief executive officer Julian Belev stressed the importance of waste recycling in Bulgaria where waste management needed to have a higher public profile.
“After its recovery, waste becomes a resource for the economy, and the circular economy saves the planet from being clogged up with waste.
“As a concept, the circular economy requires the extraction of the maximum amount of raw materials from waste. The materials will be returned to the production cycle from where they originate,” he emphasised as he explained the value of recycling.
One recent change that clearly prompted the Bulgarian waste recovery project is China’s decision to stop accepting and recycling plastic waste from Europe. The Chinese withdrawal has created a market niche in European countries.
“There should (now) be a greater incentive to recycle, use recyclable plastics more and wean ourselves off unrecyclable plastics, even if these are well designed for their use,” Belev said.
In recent months, the level of plastics waste recycling in Bulgaria is reported to have risen markedly. Today, more than 52% of scrap plastic is now being recycled in the East European country. That puts Bulgaria among Europe’s best performers as the average EU rate is 42%.