Bottle-to-bottle recycling got a huge boost in Europe as the world's top PET packaging producer, Amcor Ltd., announced it has completed an 18 million euro ($16.6 million) expansion of its PET bottle recycling capacity.
Prompted by the gathering pace of environmental legislation in Europe, the company upgraded and more than tripled capacity at its recycling plant in Beaune, France, which now can reprocess 600 million bottles per year.
Amcor PET Packaging Europe/Asia, formerly Schmalbach-Lubeca PET Containers, announced the plant now can reprocess 66 million pounds of waste into 46 million pounds of pellets. That includes 33 million pounds of SuperCycle food-grade material (up from 13 million pounds), and 11 million pounds of NuCycle material for nonfood applications.
The company worked with Swiss equipment supplier Buhler Technology Group on the project. The upgraded plant achieved higher output by combining two stages of its SuperCycle process in a single continuous operation. The new system dries and eliminates organic impurities from the PET waste in a ring extruder and then immediately refines the polyester in the continous solid-state polyconden- sation process.
The project also included a new wash line and additional warehouse space.
The recycled PET picture is changing, with a limited market now for fiber. Today the biggest end-use for post-consumer PET is in new beverage bottles, said Bruno Vincent, general manager of Amcor PET Recycling France SA.
``Given these circumstances, and the fact that recycled PET production is expected to increase by 30 percent ... it is simple, environmentally sound logic that recycled PET becomes part of the PET supply for beverage bottle production,'' he said.
Vincent also cited new legislation like the Eco-Tax due to come into force in Belgium. Manufacturers that use 50 percent recycled content will be exempt from the tax.
Amcor's other bottle-to-bottle recycling plant is in Novi, Mich. The company has 51 facilities operating in 20 countries.