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Comment Separation Processes

Solvent-based process to recycle multilayered film

By Gerald Ondrey |

Later this year (Q4 2018), APK AG (Merseburg, Germany; www.apk-ag.de) will start up the first commercial plant to recycle multilayer packaging using the company’s solvent-based Newcycling process. The plant will process 8,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr) of post-industrial multilayer film waste into pure, sorted polyethylene (PE) and polyamide (PA) re-granulates (approximately 2/3 PE and 1/3 PA). Because the quality of the products is similar to virgin resins, granulate from the Newcycling process can be reused in applications such as flexible packaging. In the Newcycling process (diagram), PE/PA multilayer films are first shredded into flakes. The flakes are fed to a bath (1) containing a solvent that dissolves PE, enabling the PA to be mechanically separated (2). The solvent is recovered (4) and reused, and the two product streams are then extruded and pelletized (3). Alternative mechanical recycling methods, which consist of shredding, washing, density sorting and extrusion, are unable to handle multilayer films, so such waste has typically been incinerated or recycled into lower-quality granulate suitable for low-value applications, such as pallets. In contrast, the Newcycling process results in a much higher-value recycling…
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