Fraunhofer confirms New recycling process saves energy

The regranulates come from plastic waste from the household collection in Germany.
The regranulates come from plastic waste from the household collection in Germany.

More and more plastic waste ends up in the oceans and damages the environment. To prevent this, plastics must be collected and recycled. But this is expensive and energy-intensive - a new process could change that.

The recycling of plastics is expensive, the energy demand is high. To reduce this, the recycling company Interseroh has developed an energy-saving process. To prove the sustainability of the process, the company has commissioned the Fraunhofer Institute Umsicht to carry out a study. The researchers have shown how much greenhouse gas emissions the new process called »Recycled-Resource« saves compared to earlier processes.

Study confirms savings potential

Plastics from household waste ideally end up in the yellow bin. The recycling companies then produce regranulate from the plastic waste, which is then returned to production. Old processes used substances from oil to produce regranulates, while the new process uses the two regranulates Recythen and Procyclen.

The Fraunhofer study examined the energy balances for the two processes. The evaluation process began with the collection and sorting of the lightweight packaging and ended with the provision of the recycled polymer. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, the primary energy requirement for the production of regranulate was also considered.

The results show that the new process is much more environmentally friendly than the old one. On the one hand, it saves climate-damaging emissions; on the other hand, the consumption of primary energy per ton of regranulate is around 21,000 kWh below the comparable value. The difference is roughly equivalent to the energy required for 14,000 wash loads. The use of Procyclen also saves 54 percent in greenhouse gas emissions.

Manufacturing according to customer specifications

»The results confirm that we are on the right track,« says Dr. Manica Ulcnik-Krump of Interseroh. »A technically further improved, effective recycling of plastics relieves the climate – and at the same time increases the benefits for our industrial customers«.

Recompounds produced using the new process are already replacing virgin materials in many areas. Together with the Corema extrusion system, it is now possible for the first time to produce customized recycling compounds in just one process step instead of the previous two. An extrusion system is a system that produces new forms from solid masses. »This noticeably reduces energy and resource consumption once again,« says Dr.-Ing. Markus Hiebel from Fraunhofer Umsicht. In addition, additives, modifiers and inorganic fillers can be added directly in the manufacturing process. Quality control of the material rheology and color stability is performed digitally in real time. This enables Interseroh to produce individual recompounds for particularly high-quality applications according to customer specifications – and at the same time protect the climate.