Technological watch

Conversion of Unilever detergent plant for recyclate production / Post-consumer polyolefins for packaging

Conversion of Unilever detergent plant for recyclate production / Post-consumer polyolefins for packagingThe companyâ??s converted plant is to produce recyclates (Photo: Unilever)A detergent and cleaning products manufacturing facility in Pozzilli / Italy scheduled for closure by Unilever (London / UK; www.unilever.co.uk) is to be reborn as a recycling plant, thanks to support from the Italian Ministry for Economic Development. With what is expected to be a largely state-funded investment of EUR 75m, Italian plastics recycler Seri Plast (San Potito Sannitico; www.seriplastsrl.it) is to take over the plant as part of a 50/50 joint venture with the British consumer goods giant.
The converted plant is to produce recyclates â?? in all likelihood recycled polyethylene and polypropylene â?? from previously non-recyclable post-consumer mixed fractions. The plant is expected to adhere to the EUâ??s circular economy model and help the company avoid the upcoming tax on single-use plastic products in Italy (see Plasteurope.com of 22.10.2020). The project is part of Unileverâ??s â??Clean Futureâ? project, which aims to halve the companyâ??s use of plastics in packaging by 2025. The London-based company received a good score in the 2020 report from environmental association As You Sow (Berkeley, California / USA; www.asyousow.org) for its agreement to reduce plastics use significantly (see Plasteurope.com of 25.02.2021).
At the Pozzilli site, the company currently employs approximately 370 workers, who will be reemployed by Seri Plast after the conversion. The capacity of the converted plant is expected to be 130,000 t/y â?? it is unclear whether this refers to input volume or recyclate output.
Unilever has committed to buying products from the new plant, which will take 18 to 24 months to be converted after the old production stops. According to the agreement, Seri Plast is permitted to increase its stake in the venture in the future.Recycling polypropylene from old batteriesSeri Plast is the plastics recovery division of Gruppo Seri (San Potito Sannitico; www.serispa.it), which has a total turnover of about EUR 130m. The division mainly processes PP casings from discarded vehicle batteries, which are reclaimed by sister companies Seri Industrial and Seri Plant.
Following the purchase and integration of the recycling and injection moulding companies Plastam, ICS EU and Exide Technologies, which extended the reach of the parent company to France and Poland, turnover in 2020 was around EUR 75m. Reclaim of battery materials, lead and lithium, represents the remaining EUR 55m.
The recyclate portfolio currently consists primarily of talc-filled rPP types, a majority of which is used in automotive construction. Part of the undisclosed total production volume flows into the companyâ??s own injection moulding production for new battery casings. A small part of the recyclates is also rHDPE for pipe extrusion. The rPE segment in particular is likely to be expanded in the course of the packaging recycling that has now been initiated.13.04.2021 Plasteurope.com [247323-0]

Publication date: 13/04/2021

Plasteurope

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14