Ambitious German packaging recovery regulations came into force on 1st January 2012, and the European Union has legislation to ban the most common single-use plastic products by 2021. At the same time, the increase in plastic production along with the closure of Chinese and Malaysian borders to this type of waste are increasing the need to develop recycling in Europe.
The customer's objective
Renew resources in a circular economy model to reduce the country's dependence on raw materials and thus meet the objectives set by the new national regulations which increases the rate of recycled plastics from 36 % to 63 % by 2022.
Give new life to old plastic bottles using a PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) plastic recycling process that allows these recycled bottles to be used in the production of new food-grade bottles.
UnPET Hybrid Technology (process by URRC) enables mechanical/chemical recycling of aggregates into certified food-grade secondary plastics.
recycled bottles per year
31 000 tonnes
oil saved per year
113 000 tonnes
CO2 equivalent avoided per year
Process and food safety guarantees equivalent to the visual and mechanical qualities of virgin PET
• Old plastic bottles collected and transported to the processing centre.
• Bottles pre-sorted according to the colour of the plastic and separation of caps and waste residues (glues and labels).
• Bottles shredded into flakes and then washed in hot water.
• Flakes processed to make a food-grade product during the hybrid mechanical and chemical UnPET (process by URRC) recovery process.
• PET flakes purified and then packaged in bags.
• Delivery to bottle manufacturers to make new PET plastic bottles, for mineral water, for example.
• Significant carbon footprint reduction: manufacturing a recycled PET plastic bottle emits 70 % less CO2 than manufacturing a virgin PET plastic bottle.
• Over 31 000 tonnes of fuel oil saved, and CO2 emissions reduced by over 110 000 tonnes per year, equivalent to the annual emissions of 14 000 Europeans.
• By avoiding melting phases in the recycling process (PET flakes are not melted), Veolia increases energy efficiency and reduces the impact on the climate compared to the use of virgin PET.
Economic competitiveness and reduction of dependency on raw materials (e.g. oil, gas) - the price of PET does not reflect its production cost, it is set based on the price of virgin material.
• Food safety - the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the German Fraunhofer Institute, EFSA, and other similar organisations have certified that the products recycled by Veolia in Rostock meet key regulations on the suitability of material for contact with food products in Europe and the United States.
• Local job creation helps raise awareness on recycling.
Site: Rostock, Germany
Equipment: Plastic waste recovery unit
Begun in 2002
Plastic waste recovery
The recycling solution involves all the stakeholders in the value chain:
• the beverage manufacturer which must choose a bottle made fully or partially from rPET (recycled PET);
• the consumers, who, in their purchase decision, must take into account the use of recycled packaging and who guarantee the return of packaging to recycling channels;
• the retailer which, depending on country, should facilitate the collection of empty bottles from the consumer;
• the collector which must transport the bottles to the sorting/recycling centre;
• the recycler which must sort and process the material while maintaining its high quality;
• the bottle manufacturer which uses the recycled material to manufacture new bottles.
The consumer must pay a deposit (8 to 25 cents) on every bottle bought in German supermarkets which they can only recuperate if they return the empty bottle: this is the Pfand system. This system is a success as the collection rate of bottles and cans was 98.5 % in 2017 (source: PricewaterhouseCoopers).
Now that they are valuable waste, cans and bottles are quickly reintroduced into the recycling system by the customers themselves or by Pfandsammler, returnable bottle and can hunters.