(Photo credit: SOPREMA)

PET Recycling

SOPREMA opens innovative recycling plant SOPRALOOP

| Recycling technology | SOPREMA | Mannheim | Germany

Complex PET plastics prepared for the production of insulating foam - The SOPREMA Group, one of the world's leading waterproofing and insulation companies, inaugurated the SOPRALOOP recycling plant in Strasbourg on 9 July 2019. 

This plant uses a globally unique process that makes it possible for the first time to recycle packaging waste from complex PET and reuse it in the industry. With this development, the SOPREMA Group follows its ambitious sustainability strategy for CO 2 savings and resource conservation, in particular the reduced use of fossil fuels.

Complex PETs are plastics that are so interconnected with other plastics that they could not be recycled before. With the new technology developed by SOPREMA, it is now possible for the first time to process used PET packaging such as opaque, multi-layered or fully welded PET bottles and trays so that they can be returned to the production cycle.

                                               Delivery of plastic waste. (Photo credit: SOPREMA)

To do this, the PET plastics are recycled into polyol in a combination of mechanical and chemical processes. This can then be used as a raw material in industry.

The process addresses two current societal challenges: reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste and developing high quality recycled raw materials for industrial manufacturing processes.

5,500 tons of polyols in the first production phase

As a first step, SOPREMA will use the plastics recycled to polyol as a major component in the production of polyurethane insulation boards. Initially, the SOPREMA polyurethane plants will be supplied in Saint-Julien-du-Sault in France and in Hof / Oberroßbach (Westerwald), both approximately the same distance from Strasbourg. In the future, the extension of the SOPRALOOP process to other countries in Europe and North America is planned.

            Mechanical recycling & washing and crushing the PET into granules. (Photo credit: SOREMA)

The investment for the plant amounted to 7 million euro. In the year of introduction, a production or recycling capacity of 3,000 tonnes of complex PET packaging is aimed for. This will probably produce 5,500 tonnes in the launch phase and soon 10,000 tonnes of polyols per year.

Within 5 years, the goal is to double or even triple production. Currently, up to 50% of the polyol used can be substituted by recycled material. With increasing experience in the recycling process a much higher rate should be achieved.

                    Plant for chemical recycling & tanks with recycled polyol. (Photo credit: SOPREMA)

The collection, presorting and transport of PET waste takes place in France in close cooperation with the recycling company Citeo, initially on pilot routes. The aim of the cooperation is to create a French transport system for receiving and processing PET packaging in sorting centers, which does not yet exist.

SOPREMA Sustainability Strategy and Solar Impulse Label "Efficient Solution" 

For over twenty years, the SOPREMA Group has been committed to resource conservation and the gradual replacement of petroleum-based raw materials with renewable and recycled materials. With numerous measures under its sustainability strategy, the company aims to continuously reduce the impact of its products and its activities on the environment, throughout the life cycle of buildings from new construction to demolition.

The SOPRALOOP process has been recognized as one of several SOPREMA solutions by the Solar Impulse Foundation with the label "Efficient Solution." With this sustainability label, the foundation intends to present to the public 1,000 expert-tested industrial solutions that showcase environmental protection and sustainability. Other award-winning solutions include the SOPREMA plant in Hof with its intelligent concept for storing cold energy, combined with self-generated energy from renewable sources, and 100% ecological PAVATEX wood fiber insulation.