The Reborn group has tackled the recycling of polyethylene (PE) films, an “underestimated” market which represents 30% of the plastic market.
This is a first in France: printed plastic films can now be de-inked in order to be recycled into transparent films. After more than five years of research and development with European scientists, the French group Reborn (formerly Excelrise) , specializing in flexible recycled plastic packaging , has put into production the first deinking line for plastic films in France installed at its Ogeu-les-Bains site in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
Three million euros have been invested in this industrial equipment, named B.Clear. With B.Clear, Reborn, which counts among its customers the brands Coca-Cola , Lactalis, Unilever and Bonduelle, can recycle 4,000 tonnes of polyethylene (PE) films printed per year on a market estimated at 100,000 tonnes in Europe. . B.Clear is the third installation of its kind in Europe and the first for consumer printed films.
With B.Clear, PE plastics now upcycled
Until now, plastic printing inks have been one of the main problems in the production of transparent secondary materials, as these inks prevent their transformation into new identical products during recycling (upcycling). The plastic film printed, eg plastics surrounding the packs of water, were recycled in lower quality materials (downcycling) as shopping bags or trash bags because of their opacity due to inks.
“The Reborn group did not recycle printed plastic films, because our customers, mainly from the food industry and hygiene, wanted above all transparent products. The deposit of printed films being very important, we saw an opportunity. “ explains Arthur Lepage, president of the group which has a turnover of 110 million euros and employs 350 people.
An important market for European recycling
“We talk a lot about plastic bottles in PET and recycling needs, but we greatly underestimate the almost identical source of polyethylene (PE) films which represents 30% of the plastic market,” he adds. “This is where Reborn comes in: we want to build momentum on a huge segment of the market that is just waiting to be upcycled.”
And B. Clear comes at the right time. A revision of the European Commission’s Green Deal (the Green Deal) could oblige manufacturers to incorporate at least 30% of recycled material in their plastic packaging and to recycle 55% of plastic packaging by 2030.
In addition, in 2021, the price of raw materials increased by 185%. “For the first time, secondary materials are less expensive and appear to be an economical solution responding at the same time to environmental and societal challenges” , underlines Reborn.
The installation of a second line is already planned for 2022 at one of the other Reborn sites in France.