PROJECT ZERO WASTAGE
Project Zero Wastage forms part of a general company project called Zero Waste, which aims to reduce excess waste from production on the (PA/PE) multi-layer coextrusion line by reintroducing it into the manufacturing process.
In recent years, our plant in Espiel, Córdoba, which boasts two coextrusion machines online, has been able to recover almost all the usable waste produced during the manufacturing process. This usable waste, including the intermediate spools (generated before and after production) and offcuts, is reincorporated directly into the line again without affecting production or the final material.
Thanks to improvements in the film repelletising process, the extrusion process itself, and even in the use of other techniques, we have been able to incorporate and recycle what was previously plastic waste into new PA/PE film for food use, without affecting its transparency and thermoforming properties.
Multi-layer extrusions, especially PA/PE, are being studied by companies such as BASF and UBE Corporation Europe for certification, ensuring independent laboratories can certify and/or accept PE in the recycling stream. These multi-layer structures that include polyamide have helped reduce food waste for decades, thanks to their medium oxygen barrier that allows vacuum-packing. Furthermore, with polyamides the thickness of the material can be greatly reduced, meaning less plastic is required. This is due to its excellent mechanical properties of strength and puncture-resistance, as well as their greater shine and transparency than other monomaterial structures (polyolefins).
The data for this project ranges from 2018 to early 2021. In this time we have managed to reuse up to 80% of our offcuts, with our target for 2021 being 100%. The data for the first quarter of 2021 puts the percentage at 95%.
In total, according to our figures, more than 350 tonnes of scraps and offcuts from the different PA/PE coextrusions are generated.
We are also studying the eco-design of other multi-layer coextrusions, such as PA/PP and PA/EVOH/PA/PE, which also create considerable amounts of virgin plastic waste that we want to recycle without affecting production, thereby avoiding landfill and downcycling (which is recycling where value and/or properties are lost).