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Manfred Hackl, CEO of EREMA.
Manfred Hackl, CEO of EREMA.

At K 2016, recycling is one of the key topics that aroused huge interests among visitors. A lot of novelties were presented, thanks to collaboration within the whole industry value chain. The plastics industry will continually strive towards a circular economy.

EREMA: recycling involves the whole value chain

EREMA showed what it was like for recycling in an Industry 4.0 setup with the outdoor CAREFORMANCE Recycling Center. An INTAREMA TVEplus 1108 system with integrated Laserfilter recycled over 30 tons of plastic waste accumulated during the show. The machine, quality and process data were transferred in real time to EREMA’s indoor booth.

The INTAREMA system is based on the EREMA’s Counter Current technology. The stability it offers enables automation processes such as Smart Start or the Recipe Management System, which in turn form the basis for industry 4.0 applications.

EREMA has developed a Smart Factory package for producers and recyclers. On the one hand, the process data of the individual machines is analyzed and, on the other, the production and recycling facilities are interconnected with the entire process chain,” explained Manfred Hackl, CEO of EREMA.

He is confident that this digital quality proof will further increase the amount of recyclate used in the production of plastics.

Along with the CAREFORMANCE Recycling Center, Borealis, Hosokawa Alpine, Bobst, GEA and EREMA jointly presented the latest developments in the production of recyclable stand-up pouches.

This collaboration makes possible for the first time to produce pouches with a material combination based exclusively on polyethylene (PE).

The companies involved demonstrate how the closed plastic loop works: the pouches produced on site – including any production waste – are likewise recycled live and the recyclates processed directly on an OCS extruder to make blown film.

The collaboration of the entire ‘plastic’ value chain has become more intensive in recent years and results in terms of product innovations – particularly in the case of recycling projects,” Hackl commented.

I like to compare the plastic loop to a relay race. It is not enough if a part of the value chain thinks only in terms of their processing step. Every manufacturer or processor of plastics has to think one step further to reach the finish line successfully together.”

NGR and Kuhne collaborate on PET recycling
NGR’s booth at K 2016.
Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen (NGR) and Kuhne are collaborating on the production of systems for producing PET sheets from PET waste, including skeleton scrap, sheet production scrap or bottle flakes. The aim is to create a solution achieving quality on par with sheets made from virgin materials.

The integrated system consists of a shredder-feeder-extruder combination for producing plastic melt, the P:REACT unit for improving the quality of PET and the sheet system from KUHNE for producing PET sheets with tightest tolerances.

As introduced, the first system part (shredder-feeder-extruder combination) can convert any form of input material into high-quality melt. This makes it possible to feed the unit with PET scrap available at low cost, such as punch scrap, sheet production scrap, bottle flakes or even fibers.

The PET melt is decontaminated in P:REACT (for 100% food-contact in accordance with FDA regulations) and the IV value is set to the desired level. “This means all the material requirements are on hand for producing PET sheets that have tight IV tolerances on par with virgin material,” explained Josef Hochreiter, CEO of NGR.

Initial tests have far exceeded our expectations for sheet quality,” added Hubert Armbruster, Managing Director of Kuhne. “The newly provided option for producing high quality PET sheets from low-cost input materials, and eliminating one melt step in the process, have already ignited great interest among our customers.”

Gneuss “JUMP” high for reprocessing PET waste
Gneuss’ newly developed JUMP system.
In the manufacture of semi-finished products such as fibers, nonwovens or films, waste that can be recycled and reused as a raw material is repeatedly produced along the entire production chain. Reclaiming waste reduces the need for raw material and thereby saves on production costs.

The Gneuss Processing Unit (GPU) was developed for the processing of bulky and contaminated PET industrial waste from various types of fiber and waste from film manufacturing.

It consists of the MRS extruder, a self-cleaning, process and pressure-constant automatic Rotary Filtration System and an Online Viscometer with intelligent viscosity monitoring and control.

Additionally, Gneuss has developed the new Jump system. This is installed directly downstream of the Gneuss Processing Unit and thanks to its ingenious process ensures an accurate and controllable IV boost of the PET by up to 0.3 in the melt phase.

Depending on the quality of the material to be recycled, either a shredder or a cutting mill can be used to guarantee good dosing properties of the output material. This very light material is then either directly fed to the MRS Extruder by means of feeding components (stuffing screw) or a further processing step takes place for compacting the material before it is fed to the extruder.

Subsequently, the purified and homogenized polymer is fed by means of a melt pump into the Jump. Through control of the residence time and the speed of the rotating elements, controlled polycondensation takes place whereby controlled IV boosting takes place of typically 0.02dl/g to maximum 0,3dl/g.

The design of the Jump system avoids the ingress of oxygen so that the yellowing effect encountered during the recycling of PET is minimized. After the PET melt has passed through a stilling chamber in the Jump system, the polymer is pumped directly into the production process (for example direct extrusion spinning, strapping) or to a pelletizing (chip cutting) system.

Herbold’s five columns for effective recycling
Herbold Plastcompactor HV 70 Series.
German recycling machine and plant manufacturer Herbold emphasized its technology for five steps of efficient recycling.

Pre-size reduction – The shredder HGM series is designed for size-reducing difficult, especially viscous materials or materials containing foreign bodies where the service lives of standard granulators are too short and where traditional shredders do not yield the desired end product. Available in wet execution for extremely abrasive materials, such as agricultural film, WEEE, etc.

Size reduction – The patented Granulator SB with forced feeding not fed into the grinding chamber by gravity as is the case with traditional granulators but as a continuous and even flow by means of feeding screws. In case of difficult applications, the company recommends its SMS Granulator with rotor design.

Fine Grinding – The PU series impact disc pulverizer is a high speed fine grinders for granular and brittle materials, e.g. PE granules or rigid PVC.

Washing, Separating and Drying – The new HV ST-150/150 series vertical step dryer consists of a multiple-stage rotor dewatering the material via a screen basket. The granules/grinding material water mass enter the machine from the bottom and are transported upwards by conveying blades. The diameter of the rotor increases upwards following the single steps. In the lower area (where free water can still be separated easily) only inferior circumferential speeds occur, at the highest step, drying is done with maximum circumferential speed.

This machine is particularly suitable for drying brittle plastics and guaranteeing at the same time little material loss caused by fines, according to Herbold. The step dryer yields a residual humidity in the range between 0.4%/weight and 0.06%/weight.

Agglomerating/Densifying – With extreme materials such as stretch film or foams, a sufficient mechanical or thermal drying is not possible without high energy consumption. The solution to this problem is the Herbold Plastcompactor, a modern compacting machine. The friction originating between the compacting discs of the compactor heats, dries and compacts the material at the same time.

Gamma Meccanica gaining success in Eurasia
A GM90 Compac recycling line.
Italian recycling system supplier Gamma Meccanica presented a GM 65 Compac line at the K Show.

The company has recently completed businesses in Turkey and Japan. A GM 125 Compac line comprises Compac feed with Cutter-compactor, single-screw extruder with degassing, screen changer and pelletizer was delivered to a Turkish customer for recycling of polypropylene (PP) and PE production waste.

The Compac cutter compactor is equipped with the ECOTRONIC system for the electronic power control which provides significant energy savings. Water is no longer used to control temperature.

According to the company, ECOTRONIC offers also the possibility of recycling materials with high moisture. An important feature is the presence of the feeding screw which guarantees a steady controlled flow of material into the extruder.

The extruder has a degassing station with two ports to facilitate the escape of gases produced during the melting of the material.

Comparing the laboratory tests on the quality of the granules produced and the hourly production of the major Italian and qualified foreign manufacturers of recycling plants, Gamma Meccanica said its line produces about 10% more than the competitors' lines of the same size in constant high quality.

In Japan, a GM 90 Compac line for stretch film and packaging film recycling has been delivered to a stretch film recycler. The screw and barrel of the extruder are designed to process different types of plastic material including LDPE, LLDPE and PP.

Avoiding bad smell with Starlinger
Starlinger’s technology allows for recycling of granulate without disturbing smell.
Recyclers of post-consumer plastic waste often have to deal with materials containing migrated substances from food, cosmetics, or detergents. But also residues of monomers, oxidation, hydrolysis and decomposition products (VOCs – volatile contaminants) can cause unwanted smell in recycled pellets.

Starlinger has developed a technology that reduces the smell during and after recycling significantly and allows recyclers to “upcycle” their end product without using additives.

The odor reduction process consists of three steps: material preparation in the company’s SMART feeder, where the material is heated and homogenized until the ideal operation point is reached; the C-VAC degassing module with 300% increased melt surface for high degassing efficiency, and the Smell Extraction Unit which gives the regranulate the final touch.

Starlinger said these “upcycled”, permanently smell-improved regranulate can be used in a wide range of applications.

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