The member companies of Fachverband Kartonverpackungen für flüssige Nahrungsmittel e.V. (FKN, the German association for the beverage carton industry), have together invested around 8 million Euros in the construction of the Palurec recycling plant on the site of the chemical park in Hürth near Cologne. The plant began operating in Spring 2021.
After the paper fibers have been detached, a mix of various plastics and aluminum residues are left in the paper mills.
These materials have so far been used mainly in cement factories as a low-emission fuel. It primarily consists of thin films made of polyethylene (PE) or PE-aluminum, with which the cardboard is coated, and polyethylene (HDPE), which comes from the caps.
Palurec produces secondary raw materials from this mixture that can be used in several new products. Palurec will have capacity to treat app. 18.000 tons of the non-fiber fraction in the future.
The process flow for Palurec:
In a purely physical-mechanical process and with the help of water as a the separating agent, Palurec produces recyclates of LDPE, HDPE and aluminium, using standard aggregates from plastics processing and combining them in a new way. This recycling plant increases the recyclability of the beverage carton to well over 90%.
The mixture is crushed and subjected to an intensive washing process. Several “friction washers” remove fiber residues, aluminum, and other remnants from the films. Foreign substances and impurities are removed.
Aluminum, which is bound in the process water, is separated in a hydrocylone by the interaction of centrifugal and flow forces.
For the subsequent process, it is essential that the imported material is as dry as possible.
The dried plastic components are placed in a so-called z-zag sifter, where the different sinking speeds of LDPE and HDPE in an airstream separate both materials.
During extrusion, the LDPE is heated and formed into a mass, which is then pushed through a round opening under pressure.
After cooling, the plastic strand is formed into small grains.