EcoAllene is a new and innovative material obtained from the recycling of poly laminates, i.e. formed by a plastic and metal film. In Italy, about 7 billion beverage containers are placed on the market, meaning 150,000 tons of poly laminated waste that can be turned into a resource.
Cristina: This is a circular economy story that comes from a paper mill’s waste. Containers like these are coated with high-quality cellulose that’s recovered, but the interior, a poly blend of plastic and aluminum is discarded, but here it becomes a resource. Stefano, how does your process work?
Stefano Richaud: When we receive the so-called poly-al, the aluminium and plastic fraction from the recycling plants, we put it through a process that starts with a deep wash to eliminate the cellulose still attached to the waste and any other possible pollutants. Then we agglomerate this sort of confetti, turning it into a gravel and we extrude it into these plastic granules which can then be turned into a plastic product.
Cristina: Were you the first to pioneer this innovation? To recycle these poly laminated items?
Stefano Richaud: The process comes from the intuition of an Italian entrepreneur who patented this idea of not separating the plastic and aluminum parts, but keeping them together. Thus transforming waste into a new plastic granule, a so-called secondary raw material.
Cristina: What do you make with it?
Stefano Richaud: We obtain a plastic granule that, supplied to our customers, can be transformed into many everyday objects. Such as household accessories, a broom or a dustpan; construction tools such as hammer handles; stationery: markers, highlighters, pens; or even packaging for the cosmetic and cleaning industries.
Cristina: Not food though…
Stefano Richaud: European legislation does not allow food to come in contact with a recycled product, except for PET, which is monomaterial.
Cristina: So it’s a 100% recycled material but is it also recyclable?
Stefano Richaud: Absolutely. Once it reaches the end of its life, the product made from our granules can be recycled just like a normal plastic material, such as polyethylene.
Cristina: What is the volume of poly laminated waste in Italy? And how much of it can you recycle?
Stefano Richaud: In Italy, 7 billion beverage containers are produced every year, of which the plastic and aluminum portion is about 25%, so with the current level of recycling collection around 60%, there are 120,000 tons of this waste. At the Alessandria plant we handle about a third of what can be recycled in Italy. Clearly, this problem is multiplied in all countries where beverage cartons are widely used. And let’s consider all the other poly laminates formed by paper, plastic and aluminum. Our technology offers a valid solution.
Cristina: Thank you. Technologies like this are examples of excellence in Europe and around the world. Let’s be proud of them. But now we must also innovate the supply chain. Occhio al futuro
On air March 13th 2021