Austrian recycling solutions expert Erema has established a new R&D centre to build on innovative recycling technologies with a focus on the highest possible recycled pellet quality.
The company says that while some plastics processing loops, such as those or PET bottles, are mature, other plastic waste streams require more research in the value chain to produce recycled pellets that meet the very highest standards for new products.
The emphasis will be on different solutions depending on the type of plastic, the product and the application intended for the recycled plastic. ‘It makes a difference whether clean production waste is recycled and returned to the production process or whether printed and contaminated packaging materials collected in yellow bags are recycled and used to make food packaging again,’ explains Erema md Markus Huber-Lindinger.
R&D’s crucial role
In recent years, approximately 5% of the company’s turnover has been reinvested annually in research and development. Employees from different departments handle process engineering challenges, innovations in mechanical engineering and automation technology, and special technologies with a view to further improving the quality of recycled pellets. They also focus on new recycling technologies for waste plastic materials for which there is currently no satisfactory circular economy solution.
An expanded machine park will be available following completion of the new centre. The recycling process can be evaluated end-to-end, including upstream and downstream processes such as shredding and further processing of the recycled pellets. Material tests are supported by detailed analysis in the laboratory, which will be relocated to the new premises and upgraded where necessary.
Further plastics recycling milestones
‘With the new R&D centre, we are laying the foundation for further important plastics recycling milestones from Erema,’ says Huber-Lindinger. ‘We have always been characterised by our innovative strength, as proven by 115 patent families with more than 1 000 patents.’
A key move is to look to exploit the potential of digitalisation, not only machine data to improve recycling processes and product quality but also the digital service offered to customers. These include customer-specific information tools that feature plant and process data, predictive maintenance and online support as well as commissioning via remote access.
‘The necessity of investing in the circular economy and in plastics recycling is clear from the current crises, which will be with us for some time to come,’ Erema ceo Manfred Hackl. ‘Both the coronavirus and the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine have shown us the reality of the EU’s dependence on resources. Our mission “Another life for plastic. Because we care” is more relevant today than ever before.”
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