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Transfer of Multimaterial Flexible Packaging to Circular Economy

Periodic Reporting for period 5 - FlexPack2Circle (Transfer of Multimaterial Flexible Packaging to Circular Economy)

Período documentado: 2022-10-01 hasta 2023-03-31

Saperatec is specialized in the development of innovative recycling solutions, specifically targeting composite materials that are often inadequately treated at the end of their life cycle. Presently, these materials are predominantly disposed of in landfills or incinerated, which contributes to the widespread belief that multilayer packaging materials, in particular, symbolize environmental pollution and corporate irresponsibility.

Saperatec is a pioneering company, possessing the capability to extract individual raw materials from multilayer packaging, achieving high recycling rates up to 100%. Through its distinctive separation liquid technology, the composite material is disassembled into its individual components, all while ensuring no loss or alteration of the materials. saperatec attains the highest possible value addition by reintroducing these components back into raw material cycles. Through this groundbreaking recycling concept, saperatec makes a significant contribution towards addressing the global plastic challenge, supporting customers on their journey towards sustainability and the establishment of a true circular eco systems.
saperatec provides full support to achieve sustainable recycling solutions for its customers – starting from suitable product design for the saperatec technology, addressing a closed loop recycling concept of a specific packaging up to individual application development for the gained secondary raw materials.

The primary goal of the H2020 FlexPack2Circle project was to industrialize saperatec's technology, transitioning it from a 50 kg pilot scale operation into a quasi-continuous industrial scale capable of processing thousands of tons. In 2023, saperatec successfully established a recycling facility in Dessau-Roßlau, which is set to commence commercial operations in the summer of the same year. This new recycling plant will not only handle post-industrial flexible packaging waste but also address post-consumer waste streams that contain aluminum, making a direct and meaningful contribution towards the ambitious sustainability objectives of the European Union.
he FlexPack2Circle project started in December 2018, with a pilot line in Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, capable of producing 50 kg per batch. Throughout the project, a total of 2250 kg of LDPE recyclate and 353 kg of aluminum were generated from various input materials, including aluminum barrier laminates (such as PE/Al/PET) and used beverage cartons (UBC).
Saperatec's research and development team conducted extensive adhesive screening for laminated multilayer materials, establishing benchmark values for highly sustainable adhesive types. In collaboration with Henkel, saperatec announced two adhesives which are highly recommended for the new delamination recycling process.
Originally focused on recycling post-industrial waste scraps, saperatec expanded the project scope to include post-consumer waste streams, specifically used beverage cartons. As a result, modifications at the saperatec process allowed the handling of impurities present in UBC waste streams (such as spouts and caps) as well as the removal of paper fibers.

The quality of the produced materials was evaluated by partner companies and deemed to be of high standard. The LDPE recyclate, known as Saperalen, was successfully reused for manufacturing new detergent packaging, exemplifying saperatec's circular approach—packaging to packaging. Saperatec, Henkel, and Wentus showcased the example of true sustainability at the world's largest plastic trade fair, K2022, held in Düsseldorf. The aluminum produced, named SaperAl, with its high metal content (>95%) and exceptional quality (oxygen amount <2%), was also exhibited at trade shows K2019 and K2022. Numerous companies expressed interest through signed letters of intent to purchase these high-quality LDPE recyclate and aluminum products.

Simultaneously, alongside the technological advancements in Bielefeld, saperatec applied for a federal building permit for the recycling process in Dessau-Roßlau, Saxony-Anhalt, and begun construction of the corresponding industrial facility. The groundbreaking ceremony for saperatec's the plant took place in December 2021. The entire facility was installed in approximately 18 months, with the commercial launch in summer 2023. As part of the consolidation process, the company's headquarters was relocated from Bielefeld to Dessau-Roßlau, allowing for the concentration of the entire workforce at a single site. Throughout this process, the number of employees increased from 4 to 19.

In parallel with the plant's construction, documentation for future company and plant certification was prepared. Additionally, an initial eco-balance model was implemented, highlighting the environmental advantages of the saperatec process for producing secondary resources compared to the sole energy recovery through waste incineration.

Over the years, saperatec actively promoted its technology through various PR channels, resulting in numerous news articles, press releases, and conference contributions. The recycling process also underwent validation and proof in collaboration with the CEFLEX consortium, receiving attention and support from its over 100 members. Furthermore, saperatec's technology has been safeguarded with intelligent property rights at both European and international levels.
The FlexPack2Circle project provided crucial support to saperatec in successfully establishing its first industrial plant on schedule, enabling the company to continue its parallel research and development efforts without compromising any aspects. As a result, a state-of-the-art recycling facility was constructed, capable of processing 18,000 tons per annum of aluminum-containing waste materials, yielding high-quality sales products such as LDPE granulates, PET agglomerate, and aluminum briquettes. Building upon this accomplishment, saperatec plans to expand the deployment of its technology initially within Europe and subsequently on an international scale. Additionally, the company is actively focusing on the exploration and utilization of additional post-consumer waste streams, emphasizing its commitment to further environmental impact reduction.

Environmental and economic benefits of the saperatec technology are:
• FlexPack and used beverage waste will be prevented from incineration/landfilling,
• Recovery of high-quality secondary raw materials in solid state for high-value applications,
• Energy and CO2 saving production process due to reduced demand of fossil fuels and
• Reduction of inefficient waste treatment on customer-side.

Flexible multilayer materials have proven to be a valuable material type for packaging applications due to its low weight, material saving and superior barrier properties. saperatec offers companies a technology so that proven FlexPack materials for food packaging have a proper end-of-life treatment and thus, creating circularity and sustainability.
saperatec
Production hall of saperatec´s industrial plant
Exemplary input and output material for saperatec process
Regenerated packaging out of Saperalen by Henkel, Wentus and saperatec