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Tetra Pak invests €1M in Recon Polymers to boost Dutch recycling power

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Tetra Pak invests €1M in Recon Polymers to boost Dutch recycling power

Tetra Pak has invested €1 million (US$1.09 million) in Netherlands-based material processing and recycling company Recon Polymers to help scale a pilot plant into a full industrial operation capable of recycling at least 8,000 tons of PE and aluminum (PolyAl) from beverage cartons every year. 

Source: PackagingInsights

Tetra Pak first began collaborating with Recon Polymers in 2011. The cooperation was formalized in 2019, when an official partnership agreement was put in place after the technology was sufficiently advanced. 

Speaking to Packaging Insights, Markus Pfanner, vice president of sustainability at Tetra Pak, says that the investment from Tetra Pak has enabled Recon Polymers to increase its recycling capacity from 2,000 tons of PolyAl to a minimum of 8,000 tons per year. 

Recon Polymers receives plastic and aluminum fractions from beverage cartons, separates them into HDPE plastic from the caps and LDPE plastic with some aluminum (PolyAl) from the layers of a beverage carton.

Markus Pfanner, vice president of sustainability at Tetra Pak

Adapting recyclates, advancing collaboration

Since its inception, Recon Polymers has been working with end users of recycled materials to make sure the quality of different materials can be fully adapted to different market needs. 

This has resulted in some important partnerships with companies like AVK Plastics or Aectual, who not only ensure that there are solutions for recycled materials but can also secure circular solutions. This setup supports the recycling at this plant of about 30% of all PolyAl from beverage cartons collected in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  

Markus Pfanner, vice president of sustainability at Tetra Pak

Expansion to other countries is now possible since the technique has become scalable.

Recon Polymers says it has a “unique approach to the recycling chain,” emphasizing collaboration with companies using recycled material in their production processes. Tetra Pak supports it in this mission by providing the company with relevant partners. 

Compared to other recyclers, Recon Polymers has chosen a different approach than most, by not only focusing on the recycling of the material in an energy and cost-efficient way but they also kept in mind the end-users of the recycled material. In turn creating more valuable production chains. Tetra Pak sees the increased recycling of beverage cartons as a joint effort across the entire chain and views its investment as a contribution to this collaborative effort.

Markus Pfanner, vice president of sustainability at Tetra Pak

Tetra Pak’s advances

Recently, Tetra Pak entered into a collaboration agreement with Alier, a paper manufacturing and waste recovery company, to facilitate the recycling of PE and aluminum from beverage cardboard containers in Spain.

Tetra Pak and Lactogal also recently introduced an aseptic beverage carton with a paper-based barrier, now on shelves in Portugal. Comprising 80% paperboard, the packaging consists of 90% renewable content, accompanied by a one-third reduction in its carbon footprint. The Carbon Trust has certified it as “Carbon Neutral.”

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