Lindner Recyclingtech is collaborating with the Johannes Keppler Institute to advance plastic scrap recycling in Austria. The partners have set up a pilot plant in Linz and are conducting tests to pinpoint the best process for mixed fractions.
Austria currently collects 20% of plastics in a single stream, the rest having high levels of contamination. ‘As a result, only 26% of the 920 000 tonnes generated annually gets recycled,’ says Professor Jörg Fischer, who leads the recycling project. ‘The EU wants to push this up to 55% by the end of 2025. The question is: “Is this possible – and how?”’
The EUR 6.2 million R&D venture, called circPLAST-mr, has attracted 11 scientific and 14 industrial partners. Together, they are striving to recover mixed plastic scrap into high quality products.
‘We want to create cosmetics packaging, hopefully even food-grade packaging, not just the usual park benches and flower pots,’ Fischer tells Recycling International at the IFAT tradeshow in Munich.
‘Nowadays most parties take care of their own plastics recycling – whether you’re talking about supermarkets like Lidl and chemical companies like Borealis or leading waste companies like Suez. More independent investment equals a bigger focus on plastics across the industry.’
Bigger, better, stronger
Here is where Lindner comes in, according to Stefan Scheiflinger-Ehrenwerth, head of product management. ‘All the big brands just mentioned will need turnkey solutions. And the list grows every year.’
Because of this, Lindner are building a new production plant that doubles the working space of the latest plant so it can deliver an additional 350 machines per year. ‘It’s been a busy year for us,’ laughs marketing specialist Pia Steiner. ‘The new production site will open in 2023; we’re getting ready by expanding our team, and I just settled into my new office at our new headquarters in April.’
At the heart of it, Lindner wants to be a ‘waste transformer’, he says. This means recycling solutions have to be more powerful and capable of handling growing waste streams. ‘Our answer is the new Komet 2 shredder and the upgraded Atlas unit, our biggest shredder to date,’ notes Scheiflinger-Ehrenwerth. Judging from the public’s animated reaction to the outdoor demonstrations, Lindner is on the right track.
‘Electric machines are the big recycling trend of the future,’ he says. ‘We have expanded our portfolio with the Urraco 4000, our new mobile shredder with e-drive. The series is being premiered here in Munich.’ Beyond that, the company is keeping a close eye on how robotics is impacting current recycling solutions.
Another target for the Austrian company is to take care of production tasks that were previously outsourced so it can offer greater flexibility. ‘You can’t talk about technology without talking about people,’ the product manager is quick to add. ‘The workforce is changing – fast – across many industries. Manual labour is still going down as machines become smarter and require less maintenance.’
That may be great news from a safety point of view, although not everyone is eager to make the switch. ‘Recycling is a sector rich in traditions: certain equipment, certain process steps, certain habits,’ Scheiflinger-Ehrenwerth says with a grin.
‘It’s our challenge as a tech provider to make sure the software driving our machines is easy to understand and that integrated systems make sense for operators. Using them should be as intuitive as running the apps on your mobile phone. It should be relatable.’