Strategic partnership combating plastic waste
by Barbara Vieths |
Shared know-how to combat plastic waste:
Leistritz and RITTEC sign letter of intent to build a pilot recycling plant
Extrusion technology specialist Leistritz Extrusionstechnik and RITTEC Umwelttechnik are jointly developing solutions for the continuous recycling of PET plastics. Through their strategic partnership, the two companies are addressing the pressing issue of plastic waste prevention, initially focussed on the European market. They have together created and launched revolPET®, a monomer recycling technology. It breaks down PET plastics into their constituent raw materials, creating a closed resource loop.
Following their previous successful cooperation in research, Leistritz Extrusionstechnik and RITTEC Umwelttechnik have set more joint targets: A first turnkey plant to process 10,000 tonnes of input material a year is scheduled to be built and commissioned into operation by the end of 2021. Leistritz will contribute its high-performance extruder technology and its project management expertise in the design and realisation of complete technical plants. Leistritz Managing Director Anton Fürst sees the partnership as a way to expand his company’s recycling business: “We have been working intensively in the sector for years. Downcycling or non-recyclable plastic compounds are the limiting factors. With revolPET®, we are taking a big step towards successful chemical recycling.” The EU’s Single Used Plastic Directive 2019/904 demands strong action. It stipulates that the collection and recycling rate of beverage bottles, alone, must reach 90% by 2029, independently of any bottle deposit return schemes implemented.
Serving PET growth markets
revolPET® technology, developed as part of a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), offers much-needed recycling options for the multiform packaging in the cosmetics, food and cleaning products sectors, opening up large growth markets. Multilayer and opaque packaging has until now posed a problem for recycling. Thanks to the innovative revolPET® process, no restrictions are placed on the starting materials. Carsten Eichert from RITTEC Umwelttechnik comments: “Our vision is that our technology will help solve the global challenge around PET packaging.” Within Germany’s ‘Dual System’ alone, around 200,000 tonnes of PET packaging annually cannot be recycled and ends up being incinerated (source: Institut cyclos-HTP 2017). The estimated figure for Europe as a whole is at least 1.4 million tonnes.
With its patented revolpet technology and basic engineering, RITTEC Umwelttechnik is making a valuable contribution to the ongoing development of PET recycling. RITTEC also has extensive know-how in the fields of depolymerisation and monomer purification. In their partnership, RITTEC and Leistritz are committed to promoting and conducting further research projects in order to advance and optimise the technology together, and develop complementary processes.
RITTEC Umwelttechnik develops technological solutions to add value in resource conservation. RITTEC Umwelttechnik is motivated by the awareness that the success of the circular economy is not solely determined by the quantity, but especially by the qualitative performance of treatment and recycling processes. RITTEC’s aim is to develop technologies for a circular economy that avoid downcycling of secondary raw materials and create products of virgin quality.
revolPET® recycling technology turns PET waste back into high-grade products of original quality, regardless of the input material. revolPET® meets the challenge of achieving depolymerisation within a continuous process with no loss of value or performance. The vision is that revolPET® technology will help solve the global challenges around PET packaging. The development of revolPET® was funded as part of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) “Plastics in the Environment” research project. Partners in the project alongside RITTEC Umwelttechnik GmbH are the Institute of Chemical and Thermal Process Engineering (ICTV) and the Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology (IWF) at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Fraunhofer ICT, Reclay Systems GmbH, SCHILLER Apparatebau GmbH and VTU Engineering Deutschland GmbH.
The success of Leistritz Extrusionstechnik GmbH is founded on expert know-how in relation to machinery and processes, new technologies, and a consistent focus on quality. The company has been conceiving, designing and manufacturing bespoke co-rotating twin-screw extruders and turnkey extrusion lines for the plastics industry and the life sciences sector (including pharmaceutical applications) at its headquarters in Nuremberg for over 80 years.