New Recycling Technology Debuts At Erema Open House
Several new developments for PET recycling, as well as a new turnkey recycling systems program, made headlines at Erema’s recent customer demonstration day.
Nine speakers, two live demonstrations of PE film and flake recycling, and unveiling of several major new technical and business developments highlighted Discovery Day 2018 at the headquarters and technical center of Erema North America Inc. in Ipswich, Mass. The September event was attended by around 130 guests, including recyclers, material suppliers, brand owners, and other users of recycled materials. “Our goal is to take advantage of the growing awareness of the necessity of plastics recycling and drive forward networking within the industry,” says Martin Baumann, Erema’s v.p. of sales.
The tech center houses four full Erema reclaim systems and a large shredder from Vecoplan LLC, Archdale, N.C. Live demonstrations included processing HDPE bottle flake to pellets using an Interema RegrindPro size-reduction unit and Intarema TVEplus extruder, ReFresher odor-removal system, and LaserFilter melt filter. The system was switched over to run dirty PE film contaminated with large pieces of aluminum foil, which were removed continuously by the LaserFilter.
TURNKEY SYSTEMS LAUNCH
Perhaps the biggest news at the event was the first announcement in North America of a new global business unit for Erema, focused on supplying entire plastics recycling plants from a single source. Michal Prochazka is head of the new Keycycle venture, which was launched a few months ago in Austria. He said this new systems integration service leverages Erema’s plant-engineering expertise to plan all phases of the process from debaling to sorting, washing and pelletizing.
The service starts at the initial project phase with pre-investment support, feasibility studies, and cost analysis. This includes process definition, anticipated throughput volumes, quality targets, final product, and storage.
This is followed by complete engineering and integration services. Keycycle provides overall management responsibility and interfacing between Erema and over a dozen supplier partners for shredding, sorting, washing and compounding.
The next step is plant layout and logistics, followed by detailed engineering, including all utilities like electric power, compressed air, and water treatment. Then Keycycle integrates the actual building of the plant, including the civil engineering side.
NEW TECH FOR PET RECYCLING
Under the heading of “What’s new in PET recycling,” Christoph Wöss, business development manager for bottle applications of Erema Group GmbH in Austria, reviewed several recent and brand-new developments and previewed one major product announcement that will go public this month.
He noted that the first installation of a system for converting PET bottle flake to new food-grade preforms in a single step took place this past summer in Japan. Suntory, the maker of a well-known whiskey, is the first commercial user of the Xtreme Renew system, which debuted in 2016. It uses Erema’s Vacurema system that decontaminates, degasses, dries and crystallizes PET flake before discharging it into a short-barreled extruder. That extruder then feeds the Xtreme preform injection-compression system from Italy’s SIPA. According to Wöss, the system at Suntory can produce up to 60,000 preforms/hr while saving more than 30% in energy consumption compared with the normally separate systems for PET recycling and preform molding.
Another first is what Wöss described as “the first PET tray-to-tray recycling plant in the world,” which went into production in The Netherlands this past June. The trays Wöss is referring to are thermoformed of 100% RPET by Sneltray BV, a unit of 4PET BV and sister company of 4PET Recycling BV. Wöss says the concept is also applicable to thermoformed PET clamshells widely used for packaging berries and other fresh fruit, as well as salads and sandwiches. The system involves washing the RPET flake, reprocessing through a Vacurema system, crystallizing and rebuilding the material’s I.V., and then thermoforming—which is not yet performed directly inline.
Wöss also discussed an Erema system called VOClear, which came out a year ago, for reducing VOCs in PET flake by up to 40%. This add-on to the Vacurema system removes VOCs coming from the PET itself, as well as from contaminants such as PVC or nylon.
In addition, he said Erema has a new extruder screw concept that can provide up to 6° C lower melt temperature and 25% lower acetaldehyde (AA) levels in recycled PET.
Also new is a new concept for inline crystallization of RPET immediately after pelletizing, which uses the latent heat in the pellet to save energy. The system is said to be compact and retrofittable.
Wöss concluded with a sneak preview of what he called a “brand-new, groundbreaking innovation” that will be announced this month at the PETnology 2018 conference in Paris. It combines a modified version of the Vacurema technology with new, patented solid-state polymerization (SSP) technology that restores RPET I.V. while yielding the lowest color generation among existing technologies, and accelerating decontamination and removal of VOCs. Making use of Erema’s new inline crystallization technology mentioned above, this new system is said to achieve food-contact approval while achieving higher purity levels “surpassing existing brand-owner standards,” Wöss said.
Many food and beverage companies are either using or thinking about using recycled materials in their packaging.
Today, more than ever, granulation is an important step in the total production process.
Two recently developed technologies are said to make high-quality PET recycling more economical.