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Recycling technology to increase value of recycled aseptic cartons in Brazil

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SIG today announces a BRL 10 million investment in innovative recycling technology that will enable polymers and aluminium from used aseptic carton packs to be recovered and sold separately for the first time on an industrial scale in Brazil. By expanding the range of applications for recycled materials from used aseptic cartons, SIG expects to increase their value by more than 50 percent.

“We are excited to bring to Brazil a new technology that will enable separation of aluminium and polyethylene layers from carton packs, thereby expanding the market for these materials and generating more value from the separated waste,” says Ricardo Rodriguez, President and General Manager for SIG Americas. “This project is the latest in a series of innovative collaborations led by SIG to boost collection and recycling rates for used aseptic cartons and grow the recycling chain in a sustainable way.”

 

Innovative recycling technology

The renewable paper board that makes up around 75 percent of aseptic carton packs on average can be separated for recycling in paper mills through Brazil’s existing recycling infrastructure. The polyethylene and aluminium mix (polyaluminium or PolyAl) left over from this process can be recycled into a robust material for purposes such as roofing, pallets and furniture.

SIG’s recycling plant will use innovative technology that makes it possible to separate the polyethylene from the aluminium in PolyAl to create a wider market and demand for these recycled materials. Developed over five years with project partner ECS Consulting, the new technology has already undergone a pilot project that proved the effectiveness of the chemical recycling process.

The new recycling plant is currently in construction in the state of Paraná. It is expected to begin operating in 2024 with an initial production capacity of 200 tonnes per month. Together with industry partners, SIG has also invested in a plant in Germany to separate polymers and aluminium from PolyAl that went into production in 2021.

 

Ethical collection programmes

Investing in new technology to create a wider market for recycled materials is an important step in increasing recycling rates for used aseptic cartons. SIG has already led the way with innovative programmes to support two other important steps: collection of used packaging from consumers and separation of that packaging to go into the right recycling streams.

SIG’s so+ma vantagens programme, run in partnership with NGO so+ma since 2018, enables people in underprivileged communities to collect loyalty points for bringing in waste for recycling. The points can then be exchanged for rewards, such as essential food products and skills training. SIG is now expanding this model to promote recycling and bring additional societal benefits to further municipalities in Brazil and beyond.

SIG also promotes public policies for selective waste collection in Brazil, and supports effective infrastructure and decent working conditions for waste collectors’ cooperatives as a seed investor in the Recicleiros Cidades programme. Set up with NGO Recicleiros in 2018, the programme is now operational in 13 municipalities and aims to reach 60 by 2027.

The focus on recycling in Brazil is part of SIG’s global Way Beyond Good commitment to enhance the positive environmental and social impact of its packs throughout their lifecycle.

“At SIG, we are committed to sourcing the materials that go into our packs sustainably. We are already the first aseptic carton producer to source 100 percent FSCTM-certified board and use ASI-certified aluminium,” says Isabela De Marchi, Sustainability Manager for SIG South America. “We are also determined to foster an ethical recycling chain that promotes collection and recycling of our packs after use in a way that supports communities, workers and the environment. The new recycling plant in Paraná takes us a step further on this journey by maximising the retained economic and environmental value of the materials recovered from aseptic cartons.”

 

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Radar Level Transmitter for Safe, Optimised Operations

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Emerson has introduced the Rosemount 3408 Level Transmitter, a non-contacting radar device designed to optimise ease-of-use at every touchpoint, leading to increased site and worker safety and enhanced plant performance. The Rosemount 3408 is a versatile level measurement solution, suitable for use in a wide range of industries and applications, such as chemical storage, mixing tanks and open air applications.

While the benefits of radar level measurement are widely acknowledged, leading to the technology’s fast-growing adoption across multiple industries, radars are still sometimes perceived as being complex to commission, operate and maintain. Addressing this concern, the device provides a range of functions that reduce complexity throughout its lifecycle, including a highly intuitive interface, Bluetooth wireless technology remote capabilities, predictive alerts, in-situ verification, data historian and an upgradeable design.

The user interface provides clear pictorial instructions, allowing operators to be easily guided through installation, commissioning, proof-testing, operation and maintenance. This increased ease-of-use gives process and manufacturing organisations the confidence to replace time-consuming manual procedures, thereby helping to increase safety and maximise productivity.

The new device is based on frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) technology, which enables extremely accurate and reliable measurement, even in challenging process environments. It is also suitable for use in critical safety applications such as overfill prevention, as it is Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2-certified and designed according to the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC 61508 standard relating to functional safety.

Emerson’s proprietary Smart Meter Verification software provides an easy means of verifying the health of the device, without interrupting the process. Official records of device verification are generated, simplifying compliance with regulatory requirements. In addition, an advanced diagnostics suite continuously monitors key device health and process parameters. This provides actionable information and predictive alerts that support preventative maintenance strategies, streamline troubleshooting and help increase process availability. A built-in historian enables users to access stored process data and alerts to gain process insights and aid troubleshooting.

The transmitter can be proof-tested remotely and in-situ, which makes the procedure quick and easy, saving time and increasing plant and worker safety. In the event of device failure, its exchangeable design enables the simple replacement of a cassette within the transmitter housing, rather than replacing the entire transmitter head. This saves both time and materials, making the device extremely cost-effective.

“The new generation of engineers expect modern automation technology to be very easy to implement, operate and maintain,” said Thense Korsbo, director of product management for Emerson’s radar level measurement business. “The onus is therefore on us to provide solutions that simplify operator tasks as much as possible, especially in safety-critical applications such as overfill prevention, and this was Emerson’s focus when designing the Rosemount 3408. This optimised ease-of-use will help organisations improve plant efficiency, reach their production targets and achieve the highest levels of safety.”

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New business facilities in Mexico

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Endress+Hauser Mexico has invested roughly 10 million euros in a new building. The recently occupied sales and service center is located in Naucalpan in the Mexico City metropolitan area. With 4,100 square meters of usable space, the center includes modern office facilities, an extensively equipped customer experience and process training center and a complete calibration lab.

 

Strengthening customer relationships

The building in Naucalpan reflects the solid growth of the Sales Center in recent years. It demonstrates a connection with the market and customers and enables further growth. At the heart of the building is a process training center where customers can practice using a variety of measurement instruments and simulate conditions similar to their own operating environments. Working together with experts from Endress+Hauser, they can then develop new solutions for their applications.

 

Attractive work setting

The building features numerous spaces and facilities designed with the needs of the employees in mind, allowing them to flourish and feel at home in their new work environment. The amenities include a gym, a nursing room for mothers, and a library, plus various places for individual and collective work in open spaces to ensure that the day-to-day work activities can be carried out in a productive and attractive setting.

 

Focus on sustainability

Endress+Hauser places a value on sustainability and energy efficiency with all of its construction projects. The new building in Mexico thus features solar panels. In addition, a water treatment and cleaning system was developed that feeds 7.2 cubic meters of water into the climate control and plumbing systems on a daily basis. Because of these measures, the new building was certified gold under the LEED system (Leadership in Energy and Environment), proving that it achieves significant energy and resource savings over its lifetime.

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Closed-loop recycling system for carbon fiber

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Together with the National Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu College and Tokyo University of Science Asahi Kasei, a diversified Japanese multinational company, has developed a new technology for recycling carbon fiber plastic compounds.

Carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) are highly attractive for various industries in demanding application fields due to their unique balance of rigidity, mechanical strength and light weight – also compared with conventional glass fiber reinforced plastics. However, CFRPs are expensive and challenging from a recycling perspective, as it is difficult to extract the carbon fibers from the resin after usage.

 

Together with its project partners at the National Institute of Technology at Kitakyushu College and the Tokyo University of Science, Asahi Kasei has developed a recycling method that allows carbon fibers to be extracted from CFRP or carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) used in automobiles. This results in high-quality, inexpensive continuous carbon fiber that can be recycled perpetually, contributing to circular economy. Unlike carbon fiber that is chopped up during the recycling process, Asahi Kasei’s method allows carbon fiber to be extracted from a plastic compound seamlessly, resulting in continuous strands of carbon fiber that can be reapplied in exactly the same manner while retaining properties identical to the original substance.

The conventional technologies for recycling carbon fibers by chopping and re-applying them results in a product with lower quality and less durability, insufficient for high-performance applications. To address this issue, Asahi Kasei has developed an “electrolyzed sulfuric acid solution method” that allows the carbon fiber to retain its original strength and continuous nature while fully decomposing the resin the carbon fiber is embedded in. This allows for its continued use in high-performance applications and presents an inexpensive, circular solution to the end-of-life dilemma of carbon fiber plastic compounds. Thus, these carbon fiber compounds present in vehicles for weight reduction. It can be easily and inexpensively be broken down at end-of-vehicle-life and reapplied to new vehicles in the future. In addition, Asahi Kasei is developing a carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic unidirectional tape (CFRTP-UD tape) that utilizes both recycled continuous carbon fiber and the company’s Leona polyamide resin. Boasting a higher strength than metal, this CFRTP-UD tape can be applied to automobile frames and bodies, further enabling the recycling of end-of-vehicle-life parts into different, new automobile parts. This presents a solution to the long-term challenge that carbon fiber usage for vehicles has posed on the industry and is expected to economically benefit and strengthen carbon fiber’s usage within the automobile industry on a global scale. Moving forward, Asahi Kasei will perform demonstrations and develop the business, aiming for practical application around 2030.

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