One of the main barriers to achieving recycling at scale is the lack of sufficient and appropriate capacity to process materials. For some materials, currently available recycling technologies are limited in their ability to produce new materials with the required properties, such as the mechanical recycling of flexible plastics into food-grade applications. These limitations reduce the economic viability of collecting and recycling packaging.
To increase recycling rates, the capacity of recycling operations needs to be expanded. Our team of recycling experts works on a global, regional and local level with paper and polymer recyclers: we co-invest in recycling equipment and collaborate with equipment suppliers to optimise solutions for getting the most out of the materials.
With our long-term contribution, the recycling rate of cartons has increased to 27% worldwide. Additionally, for polymer recycling, new technologies and equipment solutions can help to accelerate recycling. One example is chemical recycling, which has the potential to help transform plastic waste back into food-grade polymers.
To advance recycling of polymers from cartons, we worked with other carton package producers to increase capacity for recycling in Germany through the Palurec initiative, founded in 2017 by FKN, the German association for liquid food carton packaging. Palurec’s EUR 8 million plant outside Cologne was completed in 2020, and opened for business in early 2021, with capacity to recycle 18,000 tonnes of polyAl per year, or around 50% of available polyAl in Germany.
For years, we’ve been working with paper products manufacturer Bio Pappel to find new recycling solutions while expanding the market for products made from recycled cartons. First, we installed a collection centre baler that increases the volume of cartons that can be recycled. Second, we installed new equipment to help Bio Pappel adapt the pulping line exclusively to carton recycling. Now we are working to expand input of cartons. We expect to reach a capacity of 24,000 tonnes per year and increase the carton recycling rate in Mexico to 40% over five years.
These are just some examples from an entire range of co-investments and collaborations we are engaged in with the goal of advancing recycling capacity and solutions. This is how we believe we can strengthen recycling infrastructures and realise recycling at scale.