Dhaka, Bangladesh-based food manufacturer Akij Food and Beverage Ltd. (AFBL), a member of Akij Venture Group, has invested in a Starlinger bottle-to-bottle recycling line to recycle the growing volumes of used PET bottles littering the country.
However, the company sees economic benefits to starting up the recycling line as well.
Bangladesh’s economy is expanding rapidly. As a result, many recyclable products, including plastic bottles, casings of electric appliances and computer equipment, are now entering the market and providing potential feedstock for plastics recycling.
As Mohammed Sadikur Rahaman, plant operations director at AFBL noted: “In Bangladesh, the recycling business helps to clean up the environment and allows making a profit at the same time. However, it is a big undertaking, and we face serious challenges and also competition.”
The Starlinger recoSTAR PET 165 HC iV+ installed at AFBL’s production site in Dhaka has taken up operation beginning of April 2022. It turns PET flakes into food-contact rPET pellets and has a production capacity of up to 1,800 kg/h. The recycling process starts with a two-stage heating and drying phase of the washed flakes for optimum preparation for the extrusion process. After extrusion, filtering and pelletising, the produced rPET pellets undergo vacuum treatment in the downstream SSP reactor. This increases the intrinsic viscosity (IV) and effectively decontaminates the pellets so that they can be used for food-contact applications.
AFBL currently incorporates 20 % to 40 % recycled PET content into its beverage bottles for water and carbonated soft drinks.
Today, the company’s recycling facility reprocesses what Rahaman referred to as ‘mountains of used plastic bottles’ which used to be thrown away after a single use to become a threat to the environment.
“Now, each year billions of them will be turned into PET flakes and pellets in order to become new bottles,” he said, adding: “We opted for a Starlinger system because it complies with European Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 and fulfils the high quality demands required for our product.”
AFBL sources the used bottles from various vendors on the local market. To achieve the high-quality rPET needed for food-contact applications, the input material must be thoroughly washed to effectively remove foreign substances such as polyolefins, metals, dust and dirt, and separated according to its quality. During the extrusion process, the Starlinger high-vacuum degassing and melt filtration processes ensure that the melt is free from aromatic substances and volatile contaminants that may cause quality impacts (bubbles or smells) in the produced PET regranulate.
Akij Food and Beverage Ltd. was founded in 2006 and manufactures snacks and beverages for the national and international market, exporting its products to 26 countries. It is part of Akij Group, one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Bangladesh. The diverse business portfolio of the group comprises companies in the textile, jute, food and beverage sectors as well as in the cement, ceramics, printing, packaging, and consumer products industries.