Exclusive discussions have been opened between the Austrian international, integrated oil, gas and chemicals company, OMV, and Germany-headquartered Alba Recycling, the two companies have announced. The discussions are centred on possible plans to jointly build and operate an innovative sorting plant in Walldürn, Germany, for the further sorting of mixed plastic waste for chemical recycling. A final investment decision is expected in 2022.
With five sorting plants in Germany for lightweight packaging, Alba is already Germany’s largest sorter, handling some 800,000 t of waste per year, or roughly one-third of Germany’s lightweight packaging waste.
Teaming up with Alba would give OMV access to a secure feedstock supply for its chemical recycling operations at the Schwechat Refinery in Austria. The company started up its ReOil pilot plant in 2018, which is capable of turning 100 kg of used plastics into 100 litres of synthetic feedstock per hour. The pilot plant has been running for a total of 14,500 hours since its commissioning. OMV has also taken the final investment decision for a scaled-up demo plant with a capacity of 16,000 t per year, which is set to start operations in 2023. Ultimately, OMV’s goal is to establish a commercially viable, industrial-scale plant by 2026.
“Used plastics have a significant impact on the environment and climate,” said Maximilian Grasserbauer, OMV Vice President Plastic to Plastic. “Reducing such impacts while retaining the usefulness of plastics requires a shift towards a more circular plastics system. Chemical recycling like the ReOil® process is the ideal addition to well-established mechanical recycling methods.”
The proposed collaboration with Alba Recycling would see the construction of a sorting plant based on innovative sorting technology designed by Alba. The new facility would have a processing capacity of 200,000+ t per year of post-consumer mixed waste into suitable feedstock for the production of virgin polyolefins. The innovative sorting process has already been tested at industrial scale and the output has been successfully processed as feedstock in OMV’s ReOil pilot plant.
“Chemical recycling is not a rival for mechanical recycling as mechanical recycling is the most efficient way to deal with mono-fractions from the sorting process,” emphasised Axel Schweitzer, the owner of Alba Recycling. “But chemical recycling is the only solution for mixed plastic waste like composite and multilayer plastics.”
OMV and Alba Recycling will turn this mixed plastic waste, which is incinerated today, into an important source to produce enough recycling material for the sustainable production of goods and packaging, he added.
OMV is one of Austria’s largest listed industrial companies, with Group sales revenues of € 36 bn and a workforce of around 22,400 employees in 2021. In Chemicals & Materials, OMV, through its subsidiary Borealis, is one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions and a European market leader in base chemicals, fertilizers and the mechanical recycling of plastics. OMV was among the first companies to develop a technology for the chemical recycling of used plastics more than a decade ago.