Paprec devises new technology to help EU hit recycling target

Paprec is creating innovative solutions to help the EU meets its 2020 target to have zero plastic in landfills


The European Commission estimates that the EU’s constituents together produced over 25m tonnes of plastic waste in 2008, with a third of this making its way into landfills, which is a startling statistic when considered alongside the bloc’s ambitious targets for 2020.

Far too often PVC windows, bumper stickers, yoghurt pots and materials much the same end their existence in landfill sites, prompting recycling industry players much like Paris-based Paprec to think up inventive solutions to give recyclable products a new lease of life.

The end goal of zero plastic appears all the more ambitious for France given that the country is the continent’s third-highest contributor of waste and accounts for 3.3m tonnes alone. However, the country does represent a relative bright spot for Europe in some regards, among them being that 60.9 percent of its plastics are recovered and 23.5 percent are recycled. Having said this, Paprec firmly believes that the nation can do much better.

Paprec turnover







No quick fix
The inherent challenges of pioneering just such a solution are twofold: not only does the recycling sector require over $100m of investment to reach an effective solution, but with over 700 types of plastic, a quick fix is entirely out of the question.

However, despite the recycling industry’s many complications, Paprec aims to both recycle new materials and also improve upon current recycling techniques in order to meet the ambitious recovery rates outlined by European authorities.

One of the key areas in which Paprec has been focusing its attention is on industrial facilities. “Our factory in La Neuve-Lyre has developed a specific treatment capable of recycling garbage bins at the end of their lives. The bins are now transformed into a high quality material to remanufacture new bins with 100 percent of the secondary raw material,” says Franck Seite, the company’s Regional Director.

Paprec currently offers the only certified industrial facilities dedicated exclusively to recycling plastics, and each are equipped with laboratories that guarantee a secondary raw material close or equivalent to the source material.

Built for recycling
There are two Paprec plants, in particular, that go quite some way in demonstrating the company’s technological excellence in the field, and both act as a yardstick for those following suit in the industry. The company’s facility in Limay, completed in 2009 as part of a joint venture with SITA, specialises in the recycling of PET (transparent) plastic bottles. The plant produces a new material from used bottles appropriate for consumption and certified food grade by the AFSSA.

This principle of ‘bottle to bottle’ manufacturing is complemented by the expertise of Dijon-based MBP, which was acquired by Paprec in June 2013 and remains the number one company in France for recycling bottles and household HDPE (opaque) bottles (milk jugs, detergent containers). To date, MPB handles a third of French plastic deposits (22,000 tonnes per year) and converts post-consumer waste into pipes for construction.

“We were the first to find an industrial solution for recycling HDPE. We had to prove ourselves in a market where recycled products had a bad reputation. The material that we offer provides a stable and consistent quality. Our customers have trusted us for over 10 years and we are now regarded as a supplier of raw materials in our own right,” said Sylvia Blond, Executive Assistant at MPB.

Paprec recycling quantities

Paprec believes that, regardless of new regulations and guidelines, many companies like itself will follow suit by making their own recycling advances (see Fig. 1), and that ultimately yellow bins will contain products aside from plastic bottles, jars and vials.
“At the moment we are able to recycle PET, HDPE and even PP (butter tubs, screw caps) plastics with 100 percent efficiency given that all of these plastics have their own dedicated channels,” says Eric Labigne, director of the company’s Neuve-Lyre plant. “However, if in the future all plastics are mixed then we must find new solutions. Whether these solutions lie with the consumer or the recycler remains to be seen, and so we’re exploring a number of options for various outcomes in the future.”

Granted, a fair few technological advances must be made if the region is to reach its 100 percent target by 2020, but the future looks altogether more positive with the likes of Paprec leading advances in the field of recycling.