Merseburg, 10 February 2021. At APK AG in Merseburg, Germany, improving recyclate quality and working to close the loop on plastic products remain at the top of their agenda for 2021. The Corona virus made 2020 a turbulent year for the recycling industry, and in the face of continuing challenges in the recyclate market resulting from the drop in prices for virgin material, the new year is off to a dynamic start at APK.
Positive developments in early 2021:
‘Our Newcycling® plant is continuously producing LDPE recyclates and we have already been able to supply several brand owners with our Mersalen® recyclate. In the coming months, this recyclate will begin to be found in the plastic packaging on retail shelves’, reports Klaus Wohnig, CEO of APK AG.
Complementing the positive preliminary sales trends for LDPE recyclates is optimization of APK’s polyamide product. ‘What makes our PA recyclate Mersamid® so special is its natural colour, in contrast to other PA recyclates, which frequently are black’, explains Wohnig. APK will begin supplying Mersamid® to customers in the 2nd quarter of 2021.
Along with recyclate production, APK’s testing and analytics capabilities are also undergoing rapid expansion. Following an investment of around one million euros in laboratory and testing facilities in the spring of 2020, demand for these services has been growing. APK’s portfolio essentially spans two categories:
- Advancements in plastics recycling: Testing the recyclability of plastic waste, recyclate specifications, economic considerations, development of methods for solvent-based plastics recycling, etc.
- Materials analysis: Standard and specialised analytics for plastics characterisation.
Outlook for 2021
‘We will also be taking an important step forward with our own production in 2021, testing our Newcycling® technology to assess how it processes post-consumer mixed, flexible plastic waste into high-quality recyclates’, states Wohnig. In the Research & Development unit of APK, Newcycling® technology’s potential is also being tested and further refined with a view to such highly relevant topics as the decolourisation of plastic waste as well as with an eye to new market segments, including textiles. In the area of textiles, APK, in collaboration with its partners from along the value chain, is currently initiating preliminary projects targeted at textile fibre recycling (polyamide (nylon) and polyester).
The European Commission plans to revise the European Packaging Directive at the end of the year. The EU Plastics Strategy and Green Deal call for a circular economy for plastics to be established by 2030. Revision of the Packaging Directive (Q4/2021) and development of an EU strategy for sustainable textiles (Q3/2021) will rely to a large extent on plastics recycling. The targets defined thus far can only be achieved with a sustainable mix of recycling technologies. Investments in new processes, such as APK’s solvent-based Newcycling®, will be essential in enabling production of purer recyclate grades on an industrial scale and opening up new, high-quality product segments by 2025 and 2030.