(Photo credit: TOMRA Recycling)


Argentinian recycler Reciclar improves its capacity of up to 600 million plastic bottles per year thanks to TOMRA’s equipment

4:27 min AmericaSorting and collection
Asker, Norway

TOMRA and Reciclar set an example of accelerating a circular treatment of precious resources in Latin America. The Argentinian plant, with a surface area of more than 22,000 m2, features the latest generation of TOMRA Recycling Sorting equipment and machinery.

AUTOSORT™ and AUTOSORT™ FLAKE allow the recycler business to sort and recover more than 30,000 tons/year of PET containers by color and material type and create crystal, green or light blue PET flakes and HDPE flakes of different sizes and colors. Moreover, Reciclar produces food-grade PET recyclates from post-consumer PET bottles. Thanks to the purity levels achieved, recyclers can further process them into high-quality PET and HDPE recyclates for the production of new packaging and bottles with increased recycled content, therefore supporting an environmentally friendly resource management and production in Argentina.

The plastic recycling challenge is undoubtedly a global problem in which all are involved and in Latin America, the task is not a minor one. For this reason, TOMRA Recycling Sorting and Reciclar, S.A., two important companies in the recycling sector are joining forces to contribute to environmental actions in the region in order to extend the life cycle of plastics. Both companies seek to maximize the use of recycled plastic through commitment, innovation and dedication.

According to this mission, Reciclar recently installed additional TOMRA equipment in order to meet the recycling challenges in Argentina. A ECOPLAS report estimates that the total volume of plastic recycled in 2021 amounted to 307,000 tonnes of plastics, an increase of 11% compared to 2020.

The plant founded by Marcelino Casella, which is specialized in collecting, sorting and recycling waste for the last 28 years, only recently added 2 new AUTOSORT™ FLAKE units to its operation to produce crystal, green or light blue PET flakes and HDPE flakes of different sizes and colors.

Thanks to TOMRA Recycling Sorting's advanced PET bottle and PET packaging sorting equipment and technology, the Argentinean company has reached a processing capacity of 600 million plastic bottles and a production of 18,000 tons of plastic pallets per year, becoming the leading company in Argentina in PET waste processing.

Recovering post-consumer PET and HDPE bottles.

Reciclar is mainly dedicated to the recovery of post-consumer material. About 95% of its operations are focused on recycling PET and HDPE obtained from waste coming from different parts of the country. Thanks to the recycling process, Reciclar S.A. obtains an ecological raw material of a quality comparable to that of virgin material, which allows the company to satisfy the needs of its most demanding customers both locally and internationally, including the United States, China, Europe and other Latin American countries.

What’s more, five years ago, Reciclar went one step further and updated its existing line with the next-generation equipment from TOMRA to expand its offering and additionally sort caps, safety rings and labels made of different materials.

Sophisticated sorting technology

By using the latest sorting technology, Reciclar is able to prevent around to 2,500 tonnes from ending up in landfills or aquatic ecosystems every month. To achieve this and at the same time maintain the high levels of product quality and purity required, Reciclar, S.A. has 3 AUTOSORT™ sorting systems for accurate and advanced detection and separation of plastic bottles in the pre-sorting stage. Further down the sorting line, 3 AUTOSORT™ FLAKE make sure that the flakes of different materials and colors are sorted accurately.

“TOMRA's machinery brings a wealth of advantages that recyclers can benefit from: AUTOSORT™ combines advanced features and technologies in a single machine. With its compact and flexible construction, AUTOSORT™ allows for a smooth integration into existing and new plants. Thanks to TOMRA Recycling Sorting's FLYING BEAM™ technology, excellent homogeneous light distribution is ensured for better detection and control over the entire belt width, resulting in higher throughput and operational efficiency. This enables the company to sort PET bottles with a high level of accuracy.” Added Julio Barrientos, TOMRA Recycling Sorting’s Sales Manager in Mexico.

AUTOSORT™ FLAKE, one of TOMRA's flake sorting machines, is the ideal solution for high-end applications where the number of contaminants is low, but the quality requirements are extremely high, such as in the recycling of bottles to PET bottles, as is done with Reciclar, S.A. It offers a unique technological combination, consisting of the high-resolution FLYING BEAM™ sensor, a full-color camera and a highly sensitive metal sensor, which allows flake sorting by both color and material.

“Activities at Reciclar have a triple impact: social, economic and ecological. In our plant we carry out a circular economy process by converting waste into recycled raw material and obtaining end products such as strapping, which are highly demanded materials for packaging. We are motivated to further consolidate our economic model, as we transform waste into products, 60% corresponding to strips that are exported to a large part of the continent.”, Nicolas Pell Richards, Reciclar S.A. Director.

Food-grade qualities

In Argentina, Reciclar is the only company capable of producing food grade recycled pellets and TOMRA's sophisticated sorting technology plays a considerable role in this achievement due to its high-precision sorting capabilities that allow for the recovery of high quality recyclables.

"We are a company in continuous expansion and aim for continuously increasing product quality. The relationship with TOMRA has helped us to achieve the satisfaction of our customers and the national and international market, increasing our processing capacity and keeping us at the forefront with the latest generation of technology, which is important to meet the ecological challenges we face as a region," says Nicolas Pell Richards, Reciclar S.A. Director.

The Argentinean packaging industry uses very little recycled material to manufacture new packaging. The food and beverage segment only uses recyclable post-consumer material (PCR) in some PET packaging, which represents 10% of total resin consumption, according to figures from the Circulo de Politicas Ambientales report.

Thanks to sorting technology, it is possible to keep polymers in use and divert it from landfill or incineration. According to the Círculo de Políticas Ambientales, the management of post-consumer packaging waste is crucial, as it represents approximately 30% of urban solid waste in Argentina and is a great source for recovering recyclable materials.

Combined forces to address a major challenge in Latin America

According to World Bank statistics, Latin America produces more than 430,000 tons of waste per day. In other words, each Latin American produces an average of between one and 14 kilos of waste per day. On the other hand, according to GAIA Alliance,  the USA Trade Online database of free international trade in the United States reported that between January and August 2020, 44,173 tons of plastic waste arrived from the United States to 15 Latin American countries, which meant the shipment of approximately 35 containers per day to the region.

Reciclar S.A. is the leading PET recycling company in Argentina, and in collaboration with TOMRA has distinguished itself in the recycling of plastic containers and packaging for the production of PET, PP and HDPE flakes, pellets and strips. Thanks to this achievement, Reciclar has become the only company in the country with ISO 9001:2015 certification for the production and commercialization processes of recycled PET flakes and pellets since 2009.

TOMRA and Reciclar are a clear example that in Latin America, the commitment to a more sustainable environment for future generations is a priority that transcends borders. Together, they work on enabling a more sustainable management of resources and a transition to a circular economy for PET in Argentina.

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