APK successfully scales Newcycling® for post-consumer waste

25. June 2024 All articles, Press releases

Merseburg, June 25, 2024. APK AG has successfully scaled its proprietary Newcycling® technology for the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste. Flexible, multi-material packaging waste is the focus as a material stream. “We were able to increase the laboratory scale by 200 times and have reached an industrial scale,” explains Dr Robert Marx, Chief Technology Officer of APK AG. “The development of Newcycling® is progressing continuously, even during the provisional self-administration procedure in which APK AG is currently engaged. Our post-consumer process runs smoothly day after day and the quality of the corresponding Newcycling® recyclates is impressive. Sensitive applications such as packaging in the personal care sector will represent an important market for our LDPE recyclate.”

Newcycling® combines mechanical pre-treatment steps with solvent-based purification and separation processes. This enables the physical technology to efficiently recycle complex, flexible packaging waste – such as multilayer films – and to obtain high-quality, pure recyclates. After first being scaled up based on waste from multilayer film production and tested up to commercial LDPE and PA products, Newcycling® is now dedicated to post-consumer waste. “We strive for the highest possible recyclate quality and a minimal environmental footprint,” explains Dr Robert Marx. Post-consumer LDPE recyclates from APK AG reduce emissions by at least 50 percent compared to virgin material (Ifeu 2022).

The successful scaling of post-consumer Newcycling® was advanced quickly thanks to the subsidiary APK Newcycling Competence Center GmbH (APK NCC). In 2022, APK AG acquired the technical centre in the Höchst Industrial Park, Frankfurt am Main. “The most important task of our pilot plant is to prepare and optimize the processes developed by APK AG for later production,” says Dr David Blum, Managing Director of the APK NCC and Operations Manager of the technical centre. Not only was the volume increased 200-fold – the quality of the recyclates was also successfully reproduced and optimised in terms of decolorization and yield. “We have shown that recyclates from our campaigns can be used for personal care packaging, especially for cosmetic rinse-off applications. External toxicologists have confirmed this based on our data,” explains Hagen Hanel, Head of Technology and Science, APK AG.

Personal care and cosmetic packaging – a challenge for recyclates

Plastic recyclates that meet the demanding quality requirements for use in the sensitive area of ​​personal care and cosmetic packaging are in short supply. The current changes to the EU packaging regulation continue to drive demand. Harmonized toxicological guidelines and standards can strengthen trust in the market and promote the use of post-consumer recyclates, especially regarding polyolefins such as PP and PE. In April 2024, the CosPaTox (“Cosmetics, Packaging and Toxicology”) consortium published a guideline with comprehensive recommendations for the safety assessment of recycled plastics in cosmetics and cleaning packaging. As a member of the consortium, APK AG contributed to the expertise in the guidelines. The quality classifications of the Newcycling® recyclates are carried out accordingly.

APK’s next steps: Restructuring and Newcycling® expansion

“With the help of our piloting, we are reducing investment and manufacturing costs for future plants, enable further product and technology development, and are thus creating an important basis for successful restructuring and future expansion with new APK investors,” explains Dr Robert Marx.

Since the end of May, APK AG has been restructuring itself as part of a self-administration process. The company’s goals of maintaining APK AG in Merseburg and building further large-scale plants for the Newcycling® of post-consumer packaging waste remain priority.

 

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Kristy-Barbara Lange
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