SÜDPACK and Clean Cycle have signed an agreement for a long-term investment in the CARBOLIQ technology developed by Recenso, with the aim of expanding the chemical recycling capacity of a range of plastics including flexible food packaging.

The investment builds on the existing cooperation between SÜDPACK and CARBOLIQ, which started around a year ago. In February 2021, SÜDPACK launched a chemical recycling programme with Recenso and Count with the goal of showing that materials generated during the production of plastic films are not waste and can be a valuable resource.

With the operation of the pilot plant at the disposal centre in Ennigerloh, SÜDPACK and CARBOLIQ have reportedly demonstrated that various material fractions, as well as mixed and contaminated plastic waste, can be converted into valuable resources.

According to the companies, the oil recovered from the CARBOLIQ process is virgin-quality and can be used by the plastics industry in the same way as fossil fuels to produce plastic granulates. The companies further claim these granulates can be processed to produce high-performance films for packaging applications, including for the food industry.

The companies have apparently applied the technology to resource recovery from their own recyclable material flows, as well as for the recycling of packaging materials from processing and from end customers.

In addition, the companies say that the Recenso plants for direct oiling work using the tribochemical conversion (CTC) process are “unique in the world”. The CARBOLIQ process offers a diversity of input materials, and competitive advantages in terms of energy efficiency and low emissions, according to the companies.

Christian Haupts, CEO of CARBOLIQ, explains: “Fundamentally, our joint vision is tackling the problem of high-performance flexible packaging materials that can’t be mechanically recycled with current technology. We aim to make them recyclable and therefore compatible with future needs.

“Thanks to the investment by SÜDPACK and Clean Cycle, we’ll be able to create a closed-loop, high-performance and industrial-standard system that also handles these products. It will allow us to exploit the extremely promising potential of our technology.”

Dirk Hardow, business unit manager at SÜDPACK, adds: “In a wide range of applications, for example in the food industry, high-performance multilayer films with effective protective functions are the most efficient solutions for keeping all kinds of food fresh.

“And they’ll remain the best choice in the future. That’s because they provide maximum product protection at minimum added weight.

“However, the drawback is that they can’t be mechanically recycled. Now CARBOLIQ offers a key system component for creating a circular economy in the food packaging industry which can’t be achieved solely with mechanical recycling, also due to existing legislation.

“So we see our investment in CARBOLIQ as an opportunity for SÜDPACK to expand the definition of plastic waste recycling beyond just mechanical recycling.”

In addition to solutions for flexible films in the food packaging industry, SÜDPACK and CARBOLIQ are also planning to examine opportunities for medical product packaging and technical applications. Last year, SÜDPACK Medica announced plans to expand its range of thermoforming films with a PP-based film suitable for blister packaging and other pharmaceutical applications.

Johannes Remmele, owner of the SÜDPACK Group, explains: “So not only customers of our Business Unit Food benefit, but also customers of our Business Unit Medica and Business Unit Functional Films & Compounds. That’s because in the long term we believe it will be essential also on these markets to close cycles and permanently reduce the input of fossil raw materials.”