Spain/Finland – Paper manufacturer Stora Enso’s Barcelona mill in Spain celebrated the inauguration of its new, award-winning recycling process on September 6, with the President of Catalunya Artur Mas in attendance. The mill receives used milk and juice cartons from Spain, France, Portugal and the UK and recovers all the materials used in their construction, including the fibre, plastic and aluminium.
‘The innovation is that we are now able to recycle all the constituent parts of beverage cartons,’ explains Håkan Molden, Vice President of Carton Board at Stora Enso Packaging. ‘The fact that we are able to fully recycle the cartons means less waste going to landfill. It is good for the environment and the climate. It also makes great business sense as we are able to recover usable materials and recycle them into energy and new products.’
The plastic-aluminium laminate from recovered beverage cartons is separated by the new pyrolysis-based processing technology, thus enabling both fibre and aluminium to be fully reused and the plastic to be utilised to generate energy in the mill. The recovered fibre is used for the production of white lined chipboard at the Barcelona mill.
Pyrolysis, which involves heating up the material in the absence of oxygen, makes the long chains of polyethylene divide into gases and light oils, while the aluminium remains unoxidised and can be recycled and remelted without difficulty. This is the first time pyrolysis has been used to separate plastic and aluminium, it is claimed.
The process was refined through a collaboration involving Stora Enso’s Barcelona mill and Alucha Recycling Technologies. The innovation won the 2010 ‘Best of the Best’ LIFE Environment Projects award, conferred by the EU in recognition of projects that have a positive impact on the environment.