Revolutionary beverage carton recycling site inaugurated

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling Stora enso

A ground-breaking Spanish plant that recycles previously discarded materials used in beverage cartons has been officially inaugurated.

The facility in Barcelona, developed by Stora Enso, is the first to employ technology called pyrolysis that enables the full recovery of plastics and aluminium used in beverage cartons.

The official opening of the site recently was attended by President of Catalunya Artur Mas.

Plastic and aluminium

Previously, recycling processes for the cartons had only been able to reclaim paperboard, which makes up 73 per cent of the packaging.

The novel process, first unveiled at the end of last year, now means the remaining 27 per cent made up of aluminium and plastic is also recovered.

The plastic-aluminium laminate from recovered beverage cartons is separated by the new processing technology. This means both fibre and aluminium can be fully reused and the plastic to utilised to generate energy in the mill. The recovered fibre is used for the production of white lined chipboard at the site.

The Barcelona mill now receives used milk and juice cartons from Spain, France, Portugal and the UK, said Stora Enso.

"The innovation is that we are now able to recycle all the constituent parts of beverage cartons​," said Håkan Molden, VP carton board at Stora Enso Packaging. "The fact that we are able to fully recycle the cartons means less waste going to landfill. It is good for the environment and the climate. It also makes great business sense as we are able to recover usable materials and recycle them into energy and new products."

How it works

In the pyrolysis process, the material is heated in the absence of oxygen. This makes the long chains of polyethylene divide into gases and light oils, while the aluminium remains unoxidised and can be recycled and remelted without problems, said the company.

The process was refined in partnership with Alucha Recycling Technologies. The innovation scooped one of the European Union’s LIFE Environment Project awards in 2010.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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