This year has been tough for a lot of plastic recyclers. Recycled resin prices have been under severe downward pressure for months because of persistent weak demand, competition from the falling cost of virgin plastics and cheaper imports from Asia.
On the show floor at Fakuma, there are some reports of double-digit percentage drops in sales for recycling machinery. But there are also surprisingly positive reports, with some companies saying they have not seen a drop in sales or have, even, experienced increased sales.
Chief among them is perhaps Hellweg Maschinenbau, whose managing director, Mark Hellweg, gleefully said the company will have increased its output by 30 to 50 percent by the end of 2023 after already boosting sales by 50 percent in 2022.
"The first day at Fakuma was really good," Hellweg said. "We had conversations throughout the entire day. For me, it was a very good day, like a very good Fakuma. So, I don't see any negative impact right now. I don't see it, and I don't feel it. People were a little bit nervous during the last month. I have also seen that in our customers. But yesterday I had no chance to feel it here. Optimism what all I was met with yesterday."
At the core of Hellweg's success is the new MDSGi 1500/600 wet grinder, which it is unveiling and starting to sell at Fakuma. The machine has been under development for the past three years after Repetco contacted Hellweg and was "absolutely impressed" with the results of the grinding tests, Hellweg said.
The Spain-based new entrant to the recycling of PET/polyethylene multilayer packaging ordered four prototypes that have been in operation 24/7 since the beginning of the year. Even though Hellweg only just started commercialization at Fakuma, it already received six orders for the rest of the year, and another eight are booked for 2024.
The new wet grinder uses low-power motors rated from 45 kW to 110 kW, which enable previously unattained low power consumption of just 70 kWh to 90 kWh, a huge advantage during the current high electricity price market. Forced feed of PET, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, PVC, polycarbonate, polylactic acid or PE films using a tamping screw ensures long-term, trouble-free operation even with contaminated input materials, achieving a throughput of up to 5 tonnes of film per hour.