The collaboration announced last year between film and packaging producer Südpack and Recenso, the developer of the Carboliq chemical recycling process has yielded its first tangible results: a truckload of oil.
The goal of the collaboration was to recycle reusable ‘unrecyclable’ materials on an industrial scale using the Carboliq process, in a bid to establish further closed loops in the packaging industry. As a leading manufacturer of these high-tech films, Südpack is particularly committed to sustainability. At the same time, investing in a strategic collaboration of this kind would contribute importantly to optimising Südpack’s material management.
Next to Recenso and Südpack, a third partner has been added to the collaboration. To better reach and respond to the fast-growing market for recycled materials, Rotterdam-based Count Energy Trading has been named the exclusive sales partner for the products generated through the technology. Count is experienced in handling and trading commodities in the energy and renewables industries and can offer a full pallet of services including logistics, storage, arbitrage, financials, and sustainability guidance in the market.
Carboliq technology is based on a process of Catalytic Tribochemical Conversion (CTC) - a one-stage direct liquefaction process, that involves the combined application of thermal, catalytic and mechanochemical mechanisms. CTC is applied at atmospheric pressure and at process temperatures below 400 °C. The process, during which almost no gasses are formed, produces a high ratio of oil, which is collected in a condensing system. Briquets, suitable for roast firing applications, are made from the residues.
At the Carboliq subsidiary at Ennigerloh, near Münster, where Recenso has built and now operates an industrial-scale pilot plant, materials from Südpack - complex laminated packaging films - have now been successfully regenerated into what Recenso describes as a ‘high quality liquid resource suitable for the production of new virgin quality polymers’.
On 2 February, the first truck loaded with crude oil derived from plastic waste from Südpack and converted using the Carboliq process, left the Recenso plant. As a major milestone, this achievement also sent a signal to the industry: reusable materials that are generated during the production of films are not waste, but represent a valuable resource.
Südpack feels responsible for the entire life cycle of the packaging materials it produces, said Johannes Remmele, a managing partner at Südpack.
“It is therefore of utmost importance to us to ensure that these materials are meaningfully recycled after their service life – and to make a pioneering contribution to a circular economy as well as to decarbonisation and CO2 reduction.”
Reaching this milestone was important in another way as well - after all, this collaboration aimed to ultimately demonstrate that sustainable packaging not only can, but also must be economically viable, he pointed out.
“Chemical recycling is an expedient approach in our view – and the mass balance method that has now been accepted by end consumers in the energy sector is a feasible approach for utilising products from chemical recycling as raw materials in industrial plastics processing.”