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02-19-2020

Recyclable Packaging from the Twin-Screw Extruder

Foamed rPET is the Alternative to Conventional Beverage Cartons

Foamed rPET: an alternative to conventional beverage cartons (© Leistritz)

Recycling of beverage packaging poses special challenges to the industry: the layers cannot be properly separated from each other in the recycling process, making recycling difficult. As an alternative, Leistritz Extrusionstechnik GmbH, Nuremberg, Germany, showed foamed rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) at this year's Interplastica in Moscow, Russia, at the end of January. The plant technology, which was developed and tested together with partners, enables the extrusion of rPET pellets into foamed films.

Besides Leistritz, recycling specialist NGR Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH, Feldkirchen, Austria, film manufacturer Kuhne Sankt Augustin, Germany, are involved in this project. As a "young" company, ForPET will establish a commercial development center in Russia together with investors. It is expected that the final development will be completed by the end of 2020. “Our intention was to create a material that could be recycled without any limitations. We have successfully achieved this and in the meantime we have had it patented worldwide,” says Sergey Nikitenko, Managing Director ForPET. According to the company, the film represents a 100% recyclable alternative to conventional composite materials.

Mono Material Facilitates Recyclability

Beverage packagings are relatively light and yet robust. Above all, they ensure a long shelf life and the protection of the contents. To ensure that a beverage carton meets all the required properties, different materials are combined to form a composite. In addition to wood, for example, several layers of polyethylene are used. In order to be able to store the contents without using preservatives for a longer period without cooling, an aluminum film layer is incorporated as a gas barrier.

However, it is precisely this film mixture that poses special challenges to the technology. With a mono-material packaging made of foamed rPET, on the one hand, largely all functions can be covered with just one material, and on the other hand, the separation of – if necessary – additional barrier layers such as aluminum can be solved very efficiently and economically in the melt process.

Production of the Film

Several process steps are necessary to produce the foamed rPET film: the rPET flakes are prepared with additives in the Leistritz twin-screw extruder. In combination with a liquid state polycondensation (LSP) reactor from NGR, a tailor-made granulate or a melt for downstream foaming is produced. The melt is also loaded with a physical blowing agent in a Leistritz twin-screw extruder. The foamed film is then produced in Kuhne's plant section.

"We are currently working with investors to establish a commercial development center in Russia," Nikitenko explains the next steps. It is expected that the final development will be completed by the end of 2020. After that, the first commercial products will also find their way onto the market.

According to Sven Wolf, Managing Director at Leistritz Extrusionstechnik GmbH, international brands such as one of the world's leading beverage manufacturers, but also institutional investors have already shown great interest on the occasion of the product's first design presentation at the Leistritz booth at the K Show 2019.

Additional information
  • A Closed Recycling Cycle – Now!
    Kunststoffe international 2019/12, PAGE 23 - 28

    A Closed Recycling Cycle – Now!

    The Technology to Close the Plastic Cycle Exists

    As expected, the K 2019 displayed a wide range of machine technology and complete system solutions for plastics recycling. At least since...   more

  • Residual Waste Becomes Recyclable Material
    Kunststoffe international 2019/11, PAGE 32 - 33

    Residual Waste Becomes Recyclable Material

    Recycling of Packaging Film and Other Materials

    With a waste management concept a DIY store chain is organizing its processes in its subsidiaries and, in doing so, is also earning money...   more

Company profile

Kuhne GmbH

Einsteinstr. 20
DE 53757 Sankt Augustin
Tel.: 02241 902-0
Fax: 02241 902-180

Leistritz Extrusionstechnik GmbH

Markgrafenstr. 36-39
DE 90459 Nürnberg
Tel.: 0911 43060
Fax: 0911 4306-400

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