When you use recycled plastics instead of virgin material, you automatically avoid the production of climate-damaging greenhouse gases. And the amounts are very considerable indeed. At regular intervals, we have the figures calculated by the University of Magdeburg-Stendal: In 2013, for example, the 27,000 metric tons of regrind material that left our company helped to save nearly 60,000 tons of CO2 because it was used instead of primary material. This corresponds to the emissions from 8,000 mid-class cars circling the Earth.
Since 2014, mtm has issued its customers with a certificate showing their share of the reduction of CO2 emissions according to the volume of regranulate they purchased from mtm. This provides them with documented proof of their company’s activities in the field of sustainable development.
mtm can currently process up to 75,000 tons of input product a year. We obtain our base material from various sources. In the procurement of our raw materials, we focus on plastic waste from pure, high-quality plastics. These is made up of used polyethylene and polypropylene packaging with only a very short service life behind it, and plastics from household bulk waste collections, commercial waste and industrial scrap. Because the plastic packaging waste that has only been in service for a very short time is, after processing by us into recyclate, subsequently turned into high-quality, long-lasting products by our customers, we prefer to speak of "upcycling" rather than "recycling".
mtm processes polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics from
Your contact: Ralf Böttner
Unfortunately, our processes are relatively energy-intensive, which is why we attach major importance to using all the existing energy-saving potential. A modern energy management system takes care of this. Our production process is certified to ISO 9001-2015. We have also affiliated ourselves to the European certification standard, EuCertPlast, and we naturally comply with all the requirements specified in the REACH and CLP regulations, which we monitor regularly.
The plastic waste is generally delivered to us in bale form, after which it is cut in large shredders. We then use a dry mechanical process to remove any impurities contained in the baled material (metal, wood, glass, sand, stones, paper etc.). After pre-sorting and a further shredding step, the plastics are then sorted by type and washed. We concentrate on the two polyolefins, polyethylene and polypropylene, which we separate from each other and sort according to colour. In the combined washing/separating stage, we then separate off all undesirable plastics, such as PET, polystyrene and PVC, together with any other materials sticking to them. The washed, ground material is then dried and finally processed into regranulate. At this stage of the processing, the material is compressed, melted at 180 – 240 °C, mixed with the required additives, kneaded (plasticised), finely filtered (180 µm), degassed under vacuum, fully mixed (homogenised) and finally, in water, is converted into the characteristic pellet shape. This compound/regranulate is then dried and homogenised once again in mixing silos before being packed.
The compounds/regranulate material produced in this way is of high quality and ideal for further processing.
We recycle plastic waste into high-quality regrind material and compounds for your plastic products. The regranulate produced by mtm plastics can be used for a wide variety of applications.
To enable our recycled products to compete with virgin material, it is important that “quality”, “reliability of supply” and “consistency” are an integral part not only of our business policy, but that they also apply to our raw material procurement.
We supply our customers with plastic recyclate of consistent quality. Our branded Dipolen® products are based on either polypropylene or polyethylene, modified and compounded according to the customer's specifications.
Our Technical Support is on hand to ensure smooth implementation. In this context, please consult the page on our Dipolen® regranulate product line.
The advantages of our regranulate and compound materials
Our plastics processing customers use our branded regranulate material both in injection moulding and in extrusion. The customer decides on the properties of the regrind material. According to his wishes and specifications, we incorporate additional additives and/or fillers into the production process (compounding). In this way, we can tune the colour, processing temperature, flow rate, breaking strength and impact resistance to the requirements.
Regranulate from mtm plastics is used in many high-quality end-products:
Together with Borealis and in coordination with many other industry representatives, mtm has developed ten handy codes of conduct for recycling-friendly design. They are addressed to all packaging experts who are interested in the connection between their design decisions and plastics recycling. Following the "Ten Common Rules", you will find an FAQ catalogue that goes into more detail on a number of points. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to every exchange on this important topic.
At Borealis, we work closely with our value chain partners to develop polyolefin-based material solutions and concepts that accelerate the transition to the Circular Economy. There are promising opportunities for business growth in replacing the linear model of “take-make-dispose” with a more circular one focused on recycling. Polyolefins are an ideal material for designing packaging that can be recycled and these Design for Recyclability (DfR) codes need to be adopted to optimise their recyclability.
DfR incorporates recycling codes of conduct into the design process keeping in mind the end-of-life aspects after its original intended use. These DfR codes are an essential tool for delivering to market plastic packaging, with the right functionalities, yet also, helps conserve natural resources and minimise waste (including product waste) disposal or incineration and littering. DfR can maximise recycling rates for all kinds of plastic packaging because it makes separation and reprocessing more efficient. It also ensures the steady and affordable supply of high-quality recyclates, from so called “recycling-ready” packaging. Those recyclates also have a significantly lower CO2 footprint and require less fossil fuel in the manufacturing process versus production of virgin resin.
While there are many aspects of plastic packaging design that make packaging “recycling-ready”, we have identified three key overarching codes of conduct when designing the function of the packaging eg, preservation, safety, wastage
The following “dos and don’ts” help our partners and customers navigate the relatively new and complex field of DfR in polyolefins. These codes are based on current circumstances and technologies used in European countries and we recommend that you regularly consult trade and industry bodies such as Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) and the Institute Cyclos-HTP in order to stay up to date on emerging technologies, waste stream evolutions, and new sorting and reprocessing capabilities
Download: 10 Codes of Conduct (PDF)
In case you have further questions, please contact m-scriba(at)mtm-plastics.eu.
Here you will find answers from experts to general and specialist questions on the subject of the recyclability of plastic packaging:
1.1 How can we improve economics of the whole system?
In Europe there is a trend to broaden the collection from cherry-picking (valuable PET- beverage bottles and PE-HD-bottles only) to other streams of low to no-value materials (PTT and film/flexibles). This will result in higher costs in the fist step. From a societal view these costs partly are occurring anyhow, because the streams will otherwise have to be treated and paid for as waste by municipalities. With these materials entering the EPR-scheme area of responsibility, the following standardization steps on all levels and for all players in the value chain become even more important:
1.2 When will there be recycling solutions for PET blister packages?
Sorting and recycling of PET pots, tubs, trays and blisters currently still encounters difficulties e.g. identification of multilayer material, viscosity, contamination with labels, pigments, prints and filled goods. Clean monolayer PET–PTT and blisters could be added to a PET bottle recycling stream, but only to a lesser extent. It seems more fruitful to single out these packaging (at additional cost) once sustainable options are found. This is currently not the case with no light at the end of the tunnel. The problem would be solved if the above recommendation to concentrate on perfectly easy to recycle polymers PE and PP would be heeded for non-beverage bottles.
1.3 How can we introduce another driver than “light-weight” in sustainable policies?
Like safety, circularity needs to come first! Packaging design decisions are often backed up by Life Cycle Analyses (LCA). Given the current set-up of LCA, light-weight packaging and food waste reduction is favored over recycling issues, and LCAs do not take into account consumer behavior and littering. Either this changes or circularity has to become a separate, essential requirement on top.
1.4 Are we all informed of all the full chain critical points?
No, packaging chains are highly complex. Due to the sequential steps in creating a packaging, filling it, using it, etc., communication is also mostly sequential, i.e. between raw material supplier and packaging producer, between packaging producer and filler, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a more holistic communication approach in order to create a better understanding of sustainable solutions and their implementation. Platforms for this dialogue are e.g. PCEP (Polyolefins in a circular economy platform), CEFLEX, The Round Table for Eco-design of IK (Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen), but also NPEC (New Plastics Economy by Ellen McArthur Foundation).
1.5 Do you think that plastics recycling is possible all around the world?
Formal and informal structures already carry out plastic recycling all around the world. Of course, the level of technology and automation used is very different. However, even under very modest conditions people with entrepreneurial and engineering spirit do recycling of plastics. To get a better idea of it check out this video: www.youtube.com/watch or www.youtube.com/watch. The challenge is to expand these approaches to plastic packaging and items that, because of their design, do not easily find their markets after use: They are “not worth” collecting, sorting and recycling. Unfortunately, by volume, that is the vast majority of packaging. Even in developed countries in Europe there still is reluctance to expand collection and sorting to these (in many cases flexible and PTT) packaging streams.
2.1 How to engage more brand owners and retailers?
We would recommend inviting the brand owners and retailers to participate in circular economy platforms like PECEP and CEFLEX. It is here where decision criteria up and down the value chain are being discussed, knowledge is transferred and common ground is looked for. Implementing those learnings in participating companies will create a pull effect because they will act as role models for circular behavior and – via competition – make others follow.
2.2 What information is needed to help redesign packaging to improve recyclability?
Recyclability is just one piece of the cake. To understand how to redesign packaging in order to attain the highest degree of circularity possible it is crucial to know the general technical conditions of collecting, sorting and recycling. A, in theory on a lab scale, fully recyclable packaging is nice but we must also make sure that the sorting plants are able to identify this type of packaging and sort it into the right waste stream (fraction). If packaging designers operate within this framework, we would automatically increase the recyclable share and reduce bad yield in our waste streams. Information about Recyclability is provided by Recoup in their paper on “Recyclability by Design” (downloadable under http://www.recoup.org/downloads/info- required?id=478&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.recoup.org%2Fp%2F275%2Fpublications) or by the design tool “Recyclass” provided by PRE (Plastics Recyclers Europe – www.recyclass.eu)
3.1 Design for Recyclability (DFR) is moving the responsibility to the designer / Brand-Owner. How can the raw material supplier be of help?
Raw material suppliers are also active in packaging material design and compounding. Their overwhelming knowledge of polymer technology and their R&D capacities can be useful when it comes to developing new, more circular materials. Blending virgin and recyclates on the producer level is an option, developing physical/chemical large scale processes may probably only be done by large petro-chemical companies.
3.2 What must product managers know to enable better recyclability?
Please check answers number 1.1, 1.3., 2.2
4. What is the biggest problem in collecting?
There are three major issues, which need improvement:
4.1 Availability of collection infrastructure: At a European scale, a lot of member states do not have their population fully covered in terms of collection infrastructure for PTT and flexible packaging. A lot of member states initially focused on bottle collection, regarding PTT and film collection as too costly. More and more collection schemes integrate PTT and flexibles, but there is still a long way to go.
4.2 In 2017 it should have become common knowledge that plastics must be collected separately from (wet and dry) normal household waste. There are technical, legal and hygiene issues with the so called comingled collection which at the end of the day all reduce the willingness of the converting industry to use recyclates coming from that type of collection. Paper and glass are collected separately in the vast majority of regions, plastics deserve the same care.
4.3 Education of citizens: Unfortunately, the quality of collected light-weight packaging is often low. The number of unwanted objects is high, packaging is often not (fully) emptied, and different packaging types are either not separated or stacked into each other. PRE-Schemes should educate their citizens in order to create a better input quality for sorting centers, which should then translate into better qualities for recyclers. Municipalities also need to focus more on educating instead of seeing collection and sorting as a business opportunity only and leaving the rest to the industry.
5.1 What are recyclers’ biggest problems today?
5.2 Sleeves materials to be chosen for HDPE, PP, PS, else?
As long as sleeves cannot convey a sorting message related to the packaging’s main body material:
Given the availability of markers needed to communicate via a PET-sleeve that the packaging’s main body is e.g. PP, there should be a significant density difference between sleeve and main body.
5.3 Level of residue? Complete emptying?
It is obvious that residue will not be recycled at the recycler’s and hence reduces production yield. With packaging getting thinner and thinner, yield drops even further. It is therefore highly recommended to design easy to empty packaging, also to prevent general waste of packed products. How can you justify the following packaging for liverpaté:
if it is so flexible that it cannot be emptied and not be conveniently handled any more by the consumer? Prevention of food waste is not only measured in shelf life.
5.4 What is the critical point or points in recycling PTTs?
Compared to other packaging types (like films or PP/PE-bottles) PTT (incl. smaller flexibles) are much more versatile when it comes to their design. In that fraction, all circular design flaws are concentrated. Please read 1.1.
5.5 What shall be the message on Black containers?
Optical sorting devices work with near infrared light being reflected into a camera lens and analyzed. Black and very dark colored items absorb that light instead of reflecting it. Hence, the container will not be detected as to polymer type and end up in bad yield or in a black fraction that consist of all black items be they PE, PP or PET. The resulting recyclates will be bad in yield, quality and achievable price.
There might be solutions in the future (better optical sorting, tracer-based sorting, etc.). However, these will still create a black stream suitable only for black recyclate applications. Therefore, today and in the future, black containers should be avoided.
5.6 What is better: rPET Trays or PP Trays?
Today, PET bottle recyclates find one of their larger markets in PET-Thermoforms (PTT made of rPET). Unfortunately, these containers are not being recycled (see above 1.2.) whilst, at the same time, they replace perfectly easy to recycle PP and PE-PTT.
We would therefore recommend the use of PP trays rather than rPET trays.
In France Valorplast is trying to force PET-Bottle-recyclers to accept trays in their streams. It remains to be seen how this works out.
5.7 Is separation by density (water bath) still needed in the future?
Density separation helps separating unwanted material from wanted material. In addition, the water has a cleaning effect on the flaked material. Even with optical sorting improving at high speed, we believe that the identification of multilayer packaging, sleeved packaging, additive-filled packaging, or other packaging combinations (e.g. plastics/paper), without density separation will not work efficiently.
5.8 Are multilayers a NO GO for recycling?
Multilayers are a no go for recycling if layers are of different polymer types and compounded physically or not mechanically separable. Even if a certain degree of compatibility is given, the glues used will have a negative effect as well. Different polymer types will contaminate recyclates and reduce quality if not separable in the recycling process. Certain barrier-layers can be accepted. Please see “Recyclass” for further details.
5.9 What is the problem with opaque PET? What is the solution?
Opaque PET is, because of its color additives, a contaminant of other streams and the most unwanted material in PET recycling. If opaque PET was separated into a single stream, recycling options would still be scarce. Separating opaque into a single stream adds additional costs to the system at currently little gain in recycling options. Today, opaque PET mostly ends as sorting waste and is incinerated.
If opaque PET spreads further into the market, it should be singled out and recycling should be found, all this at additional costs.
5.10 In which application are the PTTs recyclers no way?
The legislator has created high barriers for certain product applications:
OEMs have additional requirements as to odour and colour. There are still a lot of challenges to be tackled which will take more R&D than in the past.
5.11 Ability to recycle PE and PP together? Markets?
PE and PP can be and are currently recycled into recyclates replacing virgin material. Typical end markets are transport & logistics (pallets, crates etc.), construction (buckets, tools, spacers etc.), household & garden (buckets, composters etc.) and various other technical applications.
5.12 How can we keep functionality using monoresins instead of multilayers?
Packaging designers have been very creative designing today’s packaging. We do not believe that packaging will become simple again, but more design efforts have to focus on the circularity of packaging. We support and contribute to a more intense communication between packaging designers, brand owners, and recyclers.
Watch 4:30 - our film explains mtm transforming plastic scrap feedstock into re-pellets.
You can find us on YouTube
It is the designers who take the first major step in improving the recyclability of plastics packaging. The main aims of "RecyClass" are to give them the necessary support, sensitise them to aspects of recyclability, and provide them with a practicable tool for this purpose. The tool, developed by PRE, is an interactive online questionnaire to help designers and manufacturers establish how recycling-friendly their packaging is.