Industry Comes Together at Erema Discovery Days
More than 450 Guests Made their Way to Ansfelden, Austria
With this year's Discovery Days Eerma staged a multi-company event to inspire its attendees together to address what is without doubt the most talked about topic in the plastics industry: how the amount of recycled material in and the recyclability of end products can be increased.
At the beginning of the conference Manfred Hackl, Erema Group CEO, summed up the challenges facing the industry as follows: "To reach the new European recycling goal of 55 per cent by 2030, more than 10 million tonnes of recyclate has to be used in the end markets. Compared to 2014, this corresponds to more than double the amount of recycled material. To achieve this, we as raw material manufacturers, producers, processors and recyclers together have to identify new markets, make use of previously untapped sources of plastic and foreground and implement even stronger design for recycling in the long term.
The presentation of concrete lighthouse projects in the post-consumer and production waste recycling sectors showed how advanced the technical recycling solutions are already. For them to become a fixed part of the solutions of tomorrow, everyone involved in the entire plastics chain must have an intensive exchange of experience. "As a producer of brand articles we work systematically together with our partners on optimising our packaging. In doing so we rely on small amounts of material which, on the one hand, are made with recyclate and are at the same time recyclable. Resource efficiency and premium products are not a contradiction in terms in our view," says Thorsten Leopold, Head of International Packaging Development Home Care at Henkel.
Attendees were shown how far-reaching the product range of such end products made of recyclate already is today at the accompanying product exhibition at the Erema headquarters. From pipes for the construction industry and lifestyle products such as sunglasses to coffee machines – products containing recycled material have been part of our daily lives for quite some time. High-quality recyclate is essential here, made possible by modern recycling technology. Visitors were able to see this for themselves throughout the Discovery Days: a total of 10 recycling machines from Erema and its sister company Pure Loop were live in action around the clock.
Communication as the Key to the Circular Economy
The presentation of selected pioneer projects made it absolutely clear that the plastics chain can only grow through communication. Engel with injection moulding and Haidlmair in the tool making sector, for example, showed that it is not automatically necessary to develop existing products even further in order to use recycled pellets, often all that is needed in the first step is knowledge transfer between producers and recycling specialists. New and further developments by mechanical and tool engineers aim more at increasing process consistency when using recycled pellets in order to use them in an even broader spectrum.
The idea of the LIT Factory, a public 4.0 pilot facility under the leadership of the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT) at the Johannes Kepler University, showed how production could be in the future. Local companies will be able to try out digitalised production technologies in this test lab and develop business models parallel to them.
Recycling is an Asset in Raw Material Production
The discussion between raw material producers confirmed once again that sustainability is playing an ever increasing role in company visions. The title of this particular discussion was "Circular economy and raw material producers – parallel worlds or a complementary concept?" which enabled participants to outline their own respective strategies for the future. The result: recycling is not a contradiction in terms, it is an asset in raw material production. Sustainable end products call for the know-how of raw material producers in combination with the experience of recycling specialists. The remarks of Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) focused on European initiatives such as EuCertPlast and RecyClass which aim to drive uniform quality standards in the use of plastic materials and design for recycling. The European recycling industry can already turn to a wealth of experience in the field of innovative circular economy and has a significant lead as a result, according to Manfred Hackl: "The circular economy is not only an ecological must, it also gives Europe the chance to position itself as a pioneer of the green economy."
Attendees received an insight into the activities of plastics companies among the value chain in parallel event and company visits to Engel and Greiner Packaging. Borealis also invited Discovery Day participants to their Innovation Headquarters in Linz on day two. In a Science Walk through the company’s application hall the focus was on the processing of recyclable polyolefins and recycled pellets.
The third day was dedicated to trends in the reprocessing of production waste. Speakers from SML or Brückner confirmed that more and more packaging manufacturers already count on a combined production and recycling solution when investing in new equipment. "Erema began manufacturing recycling systems for production waste 35 years ago. This division now accounts for over 50% of our turnover and we are proud that more and more international packaging producers place their trust in our quality," says Manfred Hackl.
Picture gallery: More impressions from the Erema Discovery Days (captions in German)
EREMA Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH
Would you like to subscribe to our Newsletters on plastics technology and profit from the latest information?
Looking for a new challenge? Check out our jobs market!
Patents encourage innovation: Stay on the ball with the latest innovations in the plastics industry in our patents section.