“You can also recycle household waste”

In this issue of the Way2K interview series of the VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, Thomas Stegmeier, Head of Sales at Azo, is the interviewee.

In the VDMA interview, Thomas Stegmeier of Azo answers questions on the subject of circular economy and recycling. (Image: Ourteam – stock.adobe.com)

Thomas Stegmeier, Head of Sales at Azo. (Image: Azo)

Mr. Stegmeier, in the course of the circular economy, the use of recyclates in plastic products will increase. Has Azo already adapted its product range for this?

Thomas StegmeierAs a manufacturer of material handling systems, we know that raw materials can differ in their properties. This is the case for virgin plastics, but even more so for regrinds used in recycling applications. Not all regrind is the same, even if the starting product is the same. The flow properties of the ground product are partly determined by its processing, mainly particle size and shape, but also residual dust content. So processes such as shredding and grinding, washing and sorting have an influence on this. We have already developed special discharge systems so that regrind can be reliably discharged. In addition, special wear and tear protection of equipment also plays a role in some applications.

How does the?

Stegmeier: In pneumatic conveying, for example, the conveying speed of the product creates both internal friction and friction with the stainless steel tube. If the material being conveyed is impure because it contains fillers such as chalk or glass dust – this is common with recycled window profiles, for example – then these substances will wear down the surfaces of the equipment. Our wear protection means that plants can run longer.

All Way2K interviews at a glance:

There are still a few months to go until the K trade fair in 2022, but you can nevertheless invest the remaining time and take a look at the previous interviews from the VDMA’s Way2K series. Click here for an overview.

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Current cooperations and projects on chemical recycling

The proportion of plastic waste that is recycled must be increased in order to preserve the polymers as a valuable material. Mechanical recycling is well established in the market, but cannot capture all material streams. Chemical recycling offers a complementary solution. In order to establish and expand technology locations, new cooperations are constantly being formed and projects launched. The ticker informs you about the latest developments. Read all about the topic here

Azo has appropriate solutions in its portfolio for the further processing of plastic recyclates and materials. (Picture: Azo)

Then Azo benefits economically from the increased use of recyclates as well?

StegmeierRecycling is clearly a growth industry. Not least because of European legislation, all manufacturers are now required to switch at least partially to recyclates. This comes in handy at Azo. Regrind and recyclates are creating new challenges in material handling, and as experts we have solutions at the ready. And if we don’t know a product, we examine it in our laboratory and test center. This also applies to completely new processes.

Can you give an example?

StegmeierFor example, we are involved in a project to recycle household waste. Without separating it first, mind you. This waste contains plastic residues, cardboard, paper, but also organic components. There is a process on the market that brings all these materials together and creates a completely new product from them. This can then be used as a filler in other applications. This results in two advantages: One is a recycling of household waste that would otherwise be incinerated. Secondly, this whole process has a negative CO2 footprint. If this product is then incorporated into the company’s own products, their carbon footprint is reduced accordingly.

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How it comes about?

StegmeierSeveral factors are responsible for this. The storage of organic waste, for example, produces methane, a greenhouse gas. Since there is no longer any storage, this therefore falls away. Since the waste is also no longer incinerated, no additional emissions are generated here either as a result. The whole thing is a very exciting process that is still in its infancy. But we will certainly hear about this in the future.

A lot is already happening in Europe in the field of recycling. What is the situation elsewhere?

StegmeierWe note that the processing of regrind and recyclates still plays a minor role in parts of the world. Post-industrial recycling, i.e. the return of production waste to the manufacturing process, is already being practiced across the board, not least for economic reasons. Post consumer recycling is a different story. On the one hand, this is due to the lack of or inefficient waste collection and separation systems in these countries, and on the other hand, there is a lack of political framework conditions that provide appropriate incentives. Both are mandatory prerequisites for a functioning circular economy. But we are also noticing that other countries are already registering the systems that users are setting up here in Germany. As machine and plant manufacturers, we all have a global footprint. We can help to bring this trend out into the world.

Picture gallery: The second life of a PET bottle

In the fourth generation of the Audi A3, carmaker Audi is using seat covers made from secondary raw materials for the first time. According to the manufacturer, up to 89% of the textiles used are made from recycled PET bottles, which are processed into yarn. The fabrics should guarantee the same quality standards as classic textile covers, both visually and haptically. A total of up to 45 PET bottles of 1.5 liters each are recycled per seating system. In addition, another 62 PET bottles were recycled for the carpet in the vehicle. Other interior components are also increasingly made from secondary raw materials, such as insulation and damping components, the side trim of the trunk, the load floor and the insert mats. However, the seat covers are not yet made entirely from recyclable material (Image: Audi)

Fristads Green High Visibility collection is made of organic cotton and polyester from recycled PET bottles. It consists of a wide range of garments that allow professionals in the road construction, building, transportation and logistics sectors to dress from head to toe in high-visibility clothing with a lower environmental impact – without compromising safety and quality. With sustainable 4-way stretch and rib-knit inserts at the waist, these garments offer a high level of comfort with a lower environmental impact than normal high-visibility garments. (Image: Fristads)

The Aquis Date Upcycle is a version of an already available Oris diving watch with a colorful dial made from recycled PET plastic sourced from PET bottles collected from the ocean. Each special edition watch is unique because the recycling process creates random patterns, so no two dials are the same. (Image: Oris)

Together with Amut, Erema has commissioned the first extrusion line for food-grade PET film in Albany, New Zealand, for Alto Plastic Packaging. Erema’s Vacurema PET recycling technology is used here, combined with Amut’s inline sheet production technology. The melt enters the Amut line directly from the Vacurema 1716 T Basic without the detour via granulation. The post-consumer PET material is decontaminated and pre-dried before extrusion in the Erema plant’s vacuum reactor, at a throughput of up to 1.500 kg per hour. After high-performance filtration by an Erema SW-RTF backflush filter and online IV measurement, the melt enters Amut’s inline sheet plant directly. There, it is processed into single-layer rPET thermoformed films from 0.15 to 1.2 mm thick. Not only are the films 100% food grade, they also meet FDA food grade regulations. The rPET thermoforming sheets will then be further processed into trays and food containers. (Image: Erema)

Turkish yarn producer Korteks, based in Bursa, has been producing polyester filament yarns from recycled material on a Starlinger recycling line since May 2021. The plant has a production capacity of 7.200 t/a and processes clean production waste from the yarn manufacturer and washed post-consumer PET bottle flakes in a 1:1 ratio. The yarns produced are used in many areas, for example home textiles, clothing, textiles for the automotive sector or garden furniture. (Image: Korteks)

Starting in 2022, Continental plans to use plastic made from recycled PET bottles in the production of passenger car tires. As the automotive supplier announced, previously conventionally produced polyester compounds will be completely replaced by a sustainable polyester yarn. (Image: Continental)

The bag and accessories manufacturer Dicota, Switzerland, is pushing ahead with the conversion of its products to sustainable, environmentally-friendly manufacturing. The notebook bags, sleeves and backpacks in the Base collection are now also manufactured as Eco Base from recycled plastic bottles. In the process, up to 19 PET bottles find a second life, depending on the product. (Image: Dicota)

For the second time, Kaufland launched an exclusive sustainable sports collection made from recycled polyester in March 2021. The products are made from used PET bottles, fishing nets and plastic waste and are fully certified according to the Global Recycling Standard (GRS). (Image: Kaufland)

A team of more than 150 employees works to find sustainable solutions for Lego products. Over the past three years, materials scientists and engineers have tested more than 250 variations of PET materials and hundreds of other plastic formulations. The result is a prototype that meets several of their quality, safety and clearance requirements – including clutch performance. (Image: Lego)

Leaving an ecological footprint – Lidl takes this literally: As part of the "Reset Plastic" plastic strategy initiated by the Schwarz Group, Lidl Germany launches shoes for whose uppers recycled PET bottles from Asia are used. (Image: Lidl)

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