Syensqo and TOMRA 15.03.24

Syensqo and TOMRA have joined forces to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of separating and sorting multi-component plastic structures in which polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) serves as a barrier layer.

The partners developed a joint set of experiments with multilayer samples of commercial packaging waste consisting of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and Syensqo’s Ixan PVDC. Apparently, the results have proven that multilayer films containing PVDC can be separated from mixed plastic waste using industrial sorting equipment to achieve clean-grade polyolefin and PVDC recycling streams. 

“The overall target of this project was to challenge major industry standards which claim that multilayer PVDC films cannot be sorted out of multilayer packaging structures,” explains Federico Baruffi, global marketing manager, specialty polymers at Syensqo. “Our experiments have demonstrated the contrary and are sending a clear message to the packaging and recycling industry that it can be done, notably with good accuracy and repeatability using existing industrial technology.” 

The results apply to markets that are currently generating multi-layer mixed plastic waste containing PVDC, such as shrink films in consumer and food packaging.  

“One of the concerns in the recycling industry was the reliable identification of polymeric waste with PVDC content,” adds Marco Gregori, area sales manager Italy at TOMRA Recycling Sorting. “By combining our advanced optical and near-infrared detection systems, we managed to achieve a selectivity rate of more than 80% when sorting from post-consumer plastic mix and more than 95% when sorting from LDPE monolayer stream. This is yet another example of what today’s technology - in this case our AUTOSORT - can already do.” 

Ahead of interpack last year, TOMRA Food told us about its sensor-based sorting and grading solutions, highlighting the difficulty of ensuring food safety and product specifications for food processors. Its solutions are aimed at the specific challenges of processors and repackers of IQF vegetables and fruits, fresh pack produce, nuts, dried fruits and potatoes; the machines are apparently easily networked and some possess self-learning AI technologies to continually refine their sorting accuracy. 

At the end of last year, 4evergreen revised its collection and sorting guidelines for fibre-based packaging, updating its Guidance on the Improved Collection and Sorting of Fibre-Based Packaging tool to endorse two separate streams for fibre-based packaging, ensuring the packaging is directed to the correct recycling mills. According to the alliance, the content of the guidance now aligns with other 4evergreen tools in a bid to develop a ‘comprehensive toolbox with a consistent terminology and understanding that works at all stages of the packaging value chain’. 

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