West Coast report + Plastics Special
A U T H O R Kirstin Linnenkoper
MGG Polymers makes
the most of tech plastics
Upwards of 1.2 million tonnes of plastics can be recovered from e-scrap in Europe.
One of the recyclers taking on this large waste stream is Müller-Guttenbrunn
Group (MGG). The Austrian family business sees plastics as an ever-important
ingredient for the global electronics industry.
‘Which is nice because Eva just hap-
pens to be the name of the daughter
of our managing director,’ Slijkhuis
says with a smile. ‘When the new line
went into operation in 2013, she did
the honours by smashing a bottle of
champagne against the machine.’
GROWING DEMAND, COMPLEX
On average, discarded electronics
contain 35% of ‘tech plastics’, a huge
jump from a decade ago when the fig-
ure was only 20%. High impact poly-
styrene (HIPS) and ABS together make
up more than 50% of e-scrap plastics.
In the case of end-of-life vehicles plas-
tics, a quarter (25%) is polypropylene.
‘At MGG, we process roughly 2 000
trucks full of e-scrap plastics per year,’
Slijkhuis points out.
He acknowledges that recycling dis-
carded electronics has its challenges.
For one, the waste stream contains
batteries, capacitors, cartridges and
other components that have to be
removed before mechanical treat-
ment. These already ‘complex’ prod-
ucts are being updated regularly,
resulting in vastly different material
compositions every five years or so.
MGG Polymers has the reputation of
having ‘one of the most advanced plas-
tics recycling facilities in the world’.
The company operates from Kematen
and Amstetten, two cities in Austria,
where it recycles plastic scrap into its
premium brand of EvoSource pellets.
These come in seven different colours
with a purity rate of over 98% and
‘batch-to-batch consistency’, says Chris
Slijkhuis, e-scrap specialist at MGG.
The plastics being recycled include:
• Polystyrene (PS)
• Polypropylene (PP)
• Polycarbonate Acrylonitrile
Butadiene Styrene (PC/ABS)
The bulk of the material comes from
big players in the electronics and
home appliances industry. Important
clients include Philips, Electrolux,
and the world’s largest office stamp
manufacturer Trodat. The materials
can be used to create car interiors or
the bodies of printers, washing
machines, vacuum cleaners and –
increasingly popular these days – cof-
fee makers. ‘About 65% of our recy-
clate caters to such applications,’
The MGG recycling process uses only
10% of the energy needed to power a
traditional plastic production process.
By recycling plastics, the recycler
saves around 350 000 barrels of crude
oil every year.
Another interesting fact is that MGG
operates ‘the largest e-scrap shredder
in Austria’, which has a maximum
capacity of 80 000 tonnes per year.
German manufacturer Albert Hoffman
developed the machine, called EVA.
GREEN ELECTRONICS ON THE HORIZON
MGG is one of 20 EU-based recycling organisations working on the research
project PolyCE, aimed at reducing the amount of virgin plastics used in the
production of electronics. Other notable partners include producers Philips
and Whirlpool as well as Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute and Belgium’s
Ghent University. Exchanging practical know-how is integral to the ‘green
electronics’ initiative – which is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 campaign.
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