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Making the Plastics Economy Even More Circular




Complete systems for industrial-scale plastics recycling from a single source – the recently completed merger between Coperion and machine manufacturer Herbold Meckesheim makes it possible. Coperion, technology leader in extrusion and compounding, bulk material handling and feeding systems, brings its own expertise in the field of recycling together with that of Herbold Meckesheim, specialist in the mechanical recycling of plastic and plastic waste, forming a new Recycling Business Unit. This new Business Unit makes innovative process solutions possible that represent a new benchmark in the efforts towards a circular economy in the plastics industry. Coperion is providing a first look at its integrated recycling solutions at K 2022 (19-26 October 2022, Dusseldorf) at its booth 14/B19, at its Recycling Pavilion in the open-air fairgrounds (CE09), and at Herbold Meckesheim’s booth 9/B34.

The newly created Recycling Business Unit is able to offer modular system and plant solutions that combine the complementary technologies of Coperion and Herbold Meckesheim to benefit customers. From mechanical processing – shredding, washing, separating, drying and agglomerating of plastics – to bulk material handling as well as feeding and extrusion all the way to compounding and pelletizing, the systems that both companies have developed together cover the entire process chain for reclaiming plastics. Moreover, the plastics industry will profit from this cumulative expertise thanks to their combined global sales and service network.

Experience PET recycling live

PET recycling is one example that illustrates how Coperion will be able to implement a complete system for plastics recycling in the future. As the plastics industry makes advances towards a circular economy, PET plays an ever more important role due to its increasing use in disposable and reusable bottles and its recovery through deposit systems, along with other factors. This material possesses outstanding recycling properties, regardless of whether it is to be recycled in bottle-to-bottle, bottle-to-film/sheet, or bottle-to-fiber processes, or whether it comes from other product streams.

Complete PET recycling solutions from Coperion offer throughput performance of up to ten tons per hour. The quality of PET recyclate manufactured using Coperion recycling technology and decontaminated in an SSP (Solid State Polycondensation) reactor is so high that it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for direct contact with food.

One unique feature is that virgin material and various recyclates – such as regrind, agglomerates, or flakes – can be processed together, even if they exhibit different IV (Intrinsic Viscosity) values. Compared to conventional PET recycling procedures, Coperion’s solutions save on operation and energy costs and create less logistic efforts. Visitors to K can see and experience key components of this process at the Recycling Pavilion CE09/open-air fairgrounds and at Herbold Meckesheim’s booth 9/B34. 

SML 60/100 SB 2 Granulator

This is a granulator used for crushing PET bottles and is suitable for wet operation. One unique feature that it offers is horizontal force feeding using screw feeders. The granulator allows for space-saving installation and easy material feeding. Up to two tons of polyolefins or more than one ton of film per hour is processed.

T 2016 PA Mechanical Dryer

This mechanical dryer is suitable for various materials such as film, regrind, and mixed and rigid plastics. Thanks to its optimized design and the position of the exchangeable, wear-resistant paddles, it achieves up to 50% higher drying performance than its predecessor.

HV 70 Plastcompactor

The high-performance HV 70 Plastcompactor from Herbold Meckesheim processes material in continuous operation between one rotating and one fixed compactor disk, each equipped with screwed-on and easily replaceable kneading bars. Since the material leaves the compactor zone within a fraction of a section, the thermal impact upon the plastic is very low. The process is regulated using two parameters – the screw speed and the distance between the disks.


The FLUIDLIFT ecodry process dries the regrind while it is being conveyed to the extruder. A flash dryer specially modified for recycling regrind removes the moisture remaining after the washing process. Moisture content is significantly reduced which optimizes the energy consumption of the downstream process and leads to improved end product quality.

Smart Weigh Belt (SWB) Feeder

For feeding flakes and fiber, a Smart Weigh Belt (SWB) feeder is used. This low-headroom gravimetric feeder can feed large quantities of bulk material into the extrusion process at high accuracy, even at low and variable bulk densities. ZSK Twin Screw Extruder

Coperion ZSK twin screw extruders are the heart of the plastics recycling process. With their high-performance processing properties and high devolatilization performance, ZSK twin screw extruders are suited to energy-efficient recovery of plastics of all sorts. The ZSK extruder features high end product quality with gentle product handling, short residence time, intensive devolatilization, and outstanding dispersion with concurrently high throughput performance. In the Recycling Pavilion CE09/ open-air fairgrounds, Coperion is showing a ZSK 58 Mc18 twin screw extruder with a 58 mm screw diameter together with a melt pump, screen pack changer, and an underwater pelletizer. 

 Product Discharge

Diverters, melt pumps, and screen pack changers follow the extrusion step. Depending upon whether pellets, fiber or film are to be manufactured from the PET, Coperion provides water baths and underwater pelletizers, fiber spinning pumps or film stretching lines as part of their complete solutions.

New Recycling Innovation Center

The start of construction on the state-of-the-art Recycling Innovation Center in June of this year demonstrates the importance of the topic of plastics recycling for the market leader in extrusion and compounding technology. This new test center for recycling applications is located in immediate proximity to Coperion’s existing test center for bulk material handling at its Niederbiegen/Weingarten production facility in Germany. In the future, every major step of the plastics recycling process can be tested under production conditions and results can be examined by customers down to the smallest detail prior to making an investment.



A ground-breaking approach to keep plastics circular



Fully in line with its award-winning No Waste vision, Coveris is now introducing a new business segment named ‘ReCover’, bundling all efforts in waste sourcing, processing, and recycling to close the loop for circular plastic recycling. ReCover will act as a separate company supplying Coveris sites on an arm’s length basis but also supplying third party customers that are interested in recyclates on a quality level that are not available in the market today.

As part of its sustainability strategy, Coveris has already announced the ambition of reducing waste in all its forms. Expanding its recycling capacity and capabilities is just the next logical step for avoiding pollution and supporting customers in their sustainability efforts.

“With ReCover, we have launched a game-changing process – unique within the entire industry. With several high-impact projects in the pipeline, we are aiming at establishing a stand-alone Business Unit in the next couple of years, entirely dedicated to circular economy and closing the loop. ReCover is a platform for all mechanical recycling activities but also leads our developments to achieve food contact compliant materials.” comments Jakob A. Mosser, CEO Coveris.

To further strengthen and expand its recycling capabilities Coveris has recently acquired the site and assets from Capital Valley Plastics Blaenavon in Wales, UK. CVP is a well-established PE recycler, processing post-consumer and post-industrial waste via in-house mechanical recycling extruded mostly into building films. The Blaenavon site is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art mechanical recycling technology, with an annual capacity of 20 000 tons.

“The newly acquired Blaenavon site and assets will serve as an important recycling hub for Coveris’ Films and Flexibles operations, closing the loop for customers and for our own film production across the network. This new recycling acquisition marks a perfect start for our new company ReCover and our quest to continuously enhance our recycling offers to our customers, truly closing the loop and bringing us closer to our vision of No Waste.”, closes Mosser.

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Energy management system for green hydrogen



ABB introduces its energy management system ABB Ability OPTIMAX to the green hydrogen market, to help reduce costs of production by enabling real-time visibility of energy consumption across operations.

Green hydrogen made via electrolysis – a process of using electricity from renewable sources to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – is widely considered an important energy vector for achieving a low carbon future. It does, however, pose significant challenges in the way of high production costs and energy intensive processes.

According to the Green Hydrogen Catapult, a global initiative made up of leading energy companies, to scale up production capacity to the 50 times needed, the cost to produce green hydrogen needs to drop by 50 percent to less than $2/kg by 2026.

ABB’s OPTIMAX supports this by serving every aspect of a hydrogen plant lifecycle, from simulation at design and engineering phases to real-time visualization and monitoring when in operation. The software measures bi-directional power flows and carbon dioxide emissions providing contextual data which operators can use to determine optimal energy consumption levels required to support plant processes and minimize waste.

The transparency offered by the solution can also be applied to increase the efficiency and safety of each electrolyzer module being operated within the plant, regulating each module’s speed, and ensuring it is only used as and when required.

“Scaling up green hydrogen production requires significant capital investment as well as high operating costs,” said Sleman Saliba, Global Product Manager Energy Management for ABB Process Automation. “Nearly 70 percent of the total operating costs to run a hydrogen plant comes from the electricity needed to split the water molecule in the electrolysis process. With OPTIMAX, for between 1-3 percent technology investment, operators can run their industrial processes in the most energy efficient way and gain up to 20 percent reduction in electricity-based costs.”

Incorporating intra-day planning, operators can also utilize OPTIMAX to plan ahead to trade competitively with the grid, developing a circular energy system that is based on forecasts of renewable energy availability against demand, also considering market electricity prices.​

The solution can also be used to optimize green hydrogen integration with existing hydrogen networks and any future infrastructure that may developed.

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Innovation Hub for Co-Creation of end-to-end



As part of continuous investment, GCR Group has announced the recent opening of a dedicated R&D center in La Bisbal del Penedés, Tarragona, Spain. This ‘Innovation Hub’ is intended to build on 20 years of experience in materials technology and develop short-term and long-term polymer-based solutions that minimise environmental impact. The overall company investment is expected to reach Euros 100 million by 2025. Combined with the new state-of-the-art 200,000 tonnes recycling plant opening in 2023, these investments reflect a long-term vision created when the company was founded in 2001; ’Innovating our Sustainable Tomorrow.’

While materials based on virgin polymer resins have well-defined and consistent properties, working with recycled materials or finding ways to reduce carbon footprint presents new challenges that require experimentation to solve. Often custom solutions need to be created considering the waste stream and the application. This is why GCR believes collaborative partnerships in ‘co-creation’ projects within the value chain are vital. The new 2000 square meter Innovation Hub concentrates the technical expertise of GCR’s talented team. It includes all the equipment necessary for incubation and proof of concept from development to pilot plant and final production.

Existing collaborations involve technical institutions, equipment suppliers, raw material and waste-stream suppliers, plastic converters and brand owners. GCR also offers turn-key project management where customers completely trust GCR’s capabilities. “We prefer to send you all our scrap because the quality you’re getting out of it is something we will never reach,” quoted a major converter.

GCR’s extensive materials know-how and relentless attention to quality are reflected in existing product ranges. CICLIC R-polyolefins (Recycled polyolefins) are based on ‘up-cycling’ fully traceable waste streams and can deliver similar and consistent material properties as virgin plastics with 60-80 percent lower Carbon Footprint certification.

GRANIC mineral-filled masterbatches and compounds can offer up to a 30 percent reduction in energy costs in downstream polymer processing. In addition to an extensive range of existing products, the Innovation Hub combines GCR’s comprehensive technical and processing expertise to customise products and bring solutions to the challenges encountered when using post-consumer or post-industrial waste or carbon footprint/LCA improvement. GCR can enhance the value of waste streams through, for example, compatibilizers or capturing/blocking odour-producing bacteria. In addition, it has developed bio-polymer-based and biodegradable solutions.

“We firmly believe that we have the capability, agility and vision to accelerate the circular economy,” says Santiago Sans, Innovation Director at GCR. “Through this investment, we demonstrate our belief in collaboration with like-minded partners in the value chain.”

Finding new sustainable solutions will require changes in how the plastics industry traditionally works; a combination of know-how, new ways of thinking, and a long-term vision. GCR’s investments in Innovation Hub and the new recycling plant bring new tools to help facilitate these changes. This is another example of GCR’s long-term commitment to the circular economy.

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