Plastics packaging and recycling major Alpla Group has invested more than EUR 5 million in an extrusion system for food-grade recycled PET (rPET) made from used bottles.
The development is at its site in Anagni in central Italy, home to one of the group’s major preform production plants. The facilities currently produces 50 000 tonnes of PET a year, of which only a very small proportion is from recycled material. In future, says the company, a substantial portion is to be supplied as recycled ‘giving customers the option of sourcing preforms made partly or even entirely of rPET’.
To this end, Alpla is installing an extrusion system for 15 000 tonnes of rPET a year at the existing business premises. The EUR 5 million investment covers the construction of the building and the system itself. The plant is scheduled to go into operation in the second half of the year and ten jobs will be created.
‘We will buy in PET flakes made from used household packaging from local recyclers, process them into food-grade rPET and then use this at the site for preforms,’ says Fabio Mazzarella, plant manager in Anagni. According to Mazzarella, production of the recycled material alongside the existing processing operations results in attractive synergies in logistics and warehousing and, potentially, energy use.
Boosting the circular economy
Georg Lässer, head of recycling at Alpla, considers the investment to be a foresighted strategic decision. ‘We want to promote the bottle-to-bottle cycle and avoid down-cycling. In addition, we would like to boost local recycling solutions in a region that until now has not had the necessary infrastructure for the bottle loop.’
Current demand for recycled material can be managed easily, according to Lässer. ‘But with this measure, we are ensuring that we can also offer our customers optimum support with realising new specifications and targets in the long term and offer them top-quality recycled materials,’ he says.
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