The state has deliberately decided to delay the process in order to avoid “shock therapy” by establishing lower rates of the Environmental Fee. Manufacturers understand this as well. Thus, for example, in late November 2016 Coca-Cola Russia launched “Separate with Us” federal program. According to the data from the company, by the end of 2016 Coca-Cola intends to collect and to deliver for recycling more than 4,500 tons of plastic waste, and by 2020 to recycle at least 40% of waste consumer packing. Well, it’s a good start. And it would be nice to have many similar projects of consistent nature aimed both at collection and at recycling of waste.
Plarus is in contact with many manufactures to support them with information and service, either to arrange separate waste collection or to sell RePET granules as an option of fulfilling their disposal ratio.
Problems with Raw Materials
Plarus plant still receives raw materials from suppliers from various Russian regions. Piles of PET bottles weighing 250-300 kg each are transported by trucks from Central Russia, Krasnodar Krai and even Siberia. Supplies of raw materials are not always stable, prices vary, which required formation of 2-week stock to prevent downtime of the plant.
All raw materials, which passed through strict acceptance control at the enterprise, are accepted for production. And, in spite of this, the ratio of finished products is about 50%, while the average European ratio equals to 75-80%. This is due to the fact that, in absence of separate collection system, raw materials are picked at the sorting stations or manually when entering landfills. Not surprisingly, the quality leaves much to be desired. It is one thing to separate waste for multiple containers or 2 containers - organic/non-organic. It’s a different story when mixed waste is first removed by dump trucks, which compress and squeeze it, whereupon this waste can be transshipped several times until it is eventually transported to a landfill for burial.
As a result: sand and dirt, organic fractions and press make even plastic PET bottle mat with a layer of grey thin coat and often not recognizable by even the most up-to-date optical sorting systems by colors installed at Plarus. This causes one of the main problems of recyclers - high costs of preparation of raw materials for recycling. Such costs include labor costs (at the stage of additional manual sorting of raw materials), increased consumption of detergents (for removal of sticky dirt and labels), electricity, water, etc.
Apart from raw materials sorting production department, there are also 2 other departments at the facility - washing and mincing, which generate an intermediate product - PET flakes and extrusion and polycondensation unit. The final stage of production results in generation of PET granulate, the quality and physical/chemical properties of which conform with the quality of primary PET granulate. This is recycling PET produced by Plarus.
By the way, smaller filters are installed at the extrusion stage, and PETF melt passes through the filter with 40 micrometer grid, which, though, results in decrease of product yield, but significantly enhances its quality.
Meanwhile, production output allows to maintain demand by such companies as Coca-Cola and Freudenberg, well-known representatives of socially responsible business, committed to mitigation of the adverse impact of production and consumption on the environment. Currently, two more companies - Danone and Pepsi - are willing to procure recycling PET being at the stage of product approval process.
The company’s initiatives for separate waste collection
Plarus plant competes for clean raw materials, actively promoting the idea of separate collection of waste to the public and holding events at schools and among volunteering participants of PET waste collection programs, jointly with the Moscow Department of Natural Resources Management (Mospriroda). Plarus exposition is scheduled to be exhibited in Moscow River Museum and Forest Museum in 2017 - “Year of Environment in Russia” - in order to promote plastic recycling.
Among other things, the company implements its own PET collection project “Give the Bottle a Second Life” and the “Recycle Plastic” project, jointly with Coca-Cola and Solnechnogorsk District Administration. Since 2010, PET waste has been collected into wire mesh containers located throughout the city area in Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Region, for further recycling at Plarus plant.