APK AG, Germany
Since the new EU recycling regulations ask for significantly higher amounts of recycled plastics new innovations are needed to reach EU recycling objectives. One innovative approach is the Newcycling® process developed by APK AG which is a solvent based recycling process to solve polyolefins selectively. Arranged between classical mechanical and chemical recycling Newcycling® enables the production of high-quality LDPE regranulate out of plastic waste. The improved granulate quality not only leads in a higher range of application fields but also allows more recycling cycles for LDPE. Additionally,
Newcycling® gives advantages in recycling input streams which are not available for standard
mechanical recycling, e.g. multilayer packages, that usually only can be reprocessed as low-quality products by reason of their non-separability. Although the Newcycling® process is a promising approach, there are still several unsolved challenges for food grade applications. On the one hand polyolefins like LDPE have nearly no intrinsic barrier for molecules, i.e. potential contaminations and other small molecules can easily cross LDPE and migrate into food and on the other hand PE has a relatively low melting point limiting heat as method for decontamination. Such challenges may be the reason why there is currently no authorized food grade application for recycled LDPE or other polyolefins in Europe.
In this presentation the working principle of solvent based recycling will be presented including a comparison with classical mechanical and also chemical recycling. Furthermore, challenges and approaches of developing a food grade packaging produced from recycled polyolefin material will be discussed.