APK, an innovative advanced recycling company based in Merseberg, Germany has developed a physical and solvent-based process that enables the production of clean and single-origin polyamide and polyethylene pellets with near-virgin material properties from complex PA/PE multi-layer films.
Dubbed Newcycling, the process saves energy and resources by replacing cost-intensive new plastic production. Because of the high quality of the recyclate, it can be reused in the original application, making closed-loop recycling possible.
“Our recyclates’ very high degree of purity has been confirmed by numerous expert reports,” said Klaus Wohnig, CEO of APK. The APK facility can produce up to 8,000 tons of plastic recyclate per year.
In the Newcycling process, the polymer remains unchanged and does not require energy- and cost-intensive re-polymerisation as is the case with chemical recycling technologies. Instead, the PA/PE multi-layer film is first shredded and classified, after which the PE layer is dissolved and liquefied in a solvent bath, separating the polymers and polymer layers. The undissolved PA is then separated from the dissolved PE using conventional solid-liquid separation technology and the polymers are further processed in separate material streams.
A Coperion ZSK twin screw extruder subsequently processes the PA into a high-quality melt using very high dispersion performance and intensive devolatilisation. It is then pelletised into first-class PA recyclate, which is sold under the brand name Mersamid.
After a pre-evaporation step, the PE, together with the solvent, undergoes intense devolatilisation, also in a ZSK twin screw extruder. The solvent is completely volatilised and added back into the Newcycling process in a closed loop. The homogeneous, high-quality PE melt is then pelletised into a near-virgin quality PE recyclate marketed under the brand name Mersalen.
Emissions from the resins produced using the Newcycling technology are on average 66% lower than from their virgin counterparts.
“In APK’s innovative Newcycling process, we see a very important step along the path to a circular economy in the plastics industry,” said Jochen Burger, a process Eengineer at Coperion. Coperion is proud to support APK with its advanced extruder technology.
“In this way, we are serving the environment and future generations,” he concluded.