Mittal Technopack Pvt ltd decided to diversify into the plastic recycling business and purchase the majority of shares held by KSM Recycling GmbH in Velebit Recycling D.o.o., an entity in Croatia established for pp Big bags recycling and committed to investing further in such recycling projects globally.
Initially, Velebit Recycling D.o.o was formed in 2022 on a partnership between two separate entities KSM Group and Picopack Group to start recycling plant manufacturing of pp granules from used pp big bags in Knin, Croatia.
The recycling project was also incentivized by The Croatian Govt and EU Funds which had invested multi-million Euros in providing logistics and factory space for encouraging such projects in the city of Knin, Croatia.
In June 2023, Mittal Technopack Pvt ltd decided to buy out KSM group’s share in Velebit Recycling d.o.o. and enter the FIBC jumbo bags recycling business with their long-term business partner Picopack Group from Austria.
Also, the group’s ESG goals and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are striving for a circular economy and advocating strong action on Waste Prevention, Packaging Waste Management & packaging Circularity through increased use of Recycled material to ensure halting Biodiversity Loss & and creating a green environment. This project is a step forward to fulfilling the group’s ESG goals and mission.
With the purpose of developing a circular solution for FIBCs (commonly known as Big Bags), Velebit Recycling (a European subsidiary of Mittal Group from India) and top European players Starlinger, LC Packaging, and PET Recycling Team (a member of the ALPLA Group), have recently joined forces.
This industry initiative has resulted in the recycling of Big Bags that are used by PET Recycling Team (PRT) and in using the recycled content for producing new Big Bags for PRT.
The first steps to realize this closed-loop FIBC solution (from Big Bags to Big Bags) were taken when Starlinger, a supplier of machinery for woven plastic packaging production and plastics recycling, learned about the interest of PET Recycling Team (PRT) with regard to recycling their used Big Bags. PRT is one of Europe’s leading companies for recycling PET material. Soon after, LC Packaging, producer and distributor of Big Bag Solutions, and Velebit Recycling joined the conversation. According to Andreas Anderl, Project Manager rPP at Starlinger,
“a common goal was easily identified: developing a circular solution for the bags used by PRT”.
PRT uses food-contact Big Bags to transport and store recycled PET/HDPE flakes, granulate and regrind material until the converting plant processes the material into preforms as a prior step before new bottles are blown.
Once the bags have been emptied during the further processing of the flakes and regrind material, they are gathered, compacted and then transported to Velebit Recycling’s facility. Here, they are transformed into Post-Consumer recycled Polypropylene (PCR-rPP) granulate., utilizing Starlinger’s recycling technology. The production partner of the supplier LC Packaging uses these pellets to produce new high-quality big bags for PRT. This process employs the specially developed rPP extrusion technology by Starlinger. The closed loop is achieved when the big bags, containing 30% recycled material, arrive at PRT and are subsequently used for non-food applications.
Dutch-Bangla Pack Ltd., LC Packaging’s production location in Bangladesh, uses this granulate to produce new high-quality big bags for PRT, deploying Starlinger’s specially developed rPP extrusion technology during the process. The loop is closed when these FIBCs with 30% recycled content arrive at PRT for use in a non-food-contact application.
The difference between the Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR) that is used in this project and the Post-Industrial Recyclate (PIR) is an important one. While Post-Industrial Recyclate refers to the recycling of material waste created during the manufacturing process, Post-Consumer Recyclate is material that has been made from packaging that has actually been used, sorted, collected, cleaned, and recycled into new rPP granules. In terms of environmental impact, Post-Consumer Recyclate makes the difference.
The established closed-loop solution offers benefits for all parties involved
Christian Hude-Burian, Plant Manager PET Recycling Team Wöllersdorf, Austria explains: “With this solution, we achieve a significant reduction in waste, since used Big Bags are now turned into new Big Bags that we can use again for our purposes. This helps us to save natural resources and reduce our CO2 emissions.”
For LC Packaging, the project marks one of the first closed loops that has been have set up for rPP Big Bags. According to Thorsten Classen, Managing Director at LC Packaging GmbH, “A big advantage of this project is having access to a continuous stream of premium quality recycled material”.
“With our recycling and extrusion technology, Starlinger acts as the connecting link in this project, providing the high-quality recycled polypropylene and heavy-duty tapes needed for Big Bagproduction”, adds Andreas Anderl.
Velebit Recycling benefits from a constant material input flow of good quality. “This means that we can run our machines at high efficiency”, says Manfred Pribyl, CEO of Velebit Recycling.
While PRT’s recycled big bags are currently used for transporting and storing materials for the production of non-food packaging, the original bags are food-safe. Therefore, the next step is to close the loop for food-safe big bags. This presupposes that the materials are traceable and that each process step is properly controlled and documented. The companies are already working on a solution here. Another idea is to expand the loop to end customers of the ALPLA Group.
Thorsten Classen from LC Packaging concludes: ‘This project demonstrates that a closed-loop solution, benefiting everyone, can make a substantial environmental impact when the right stakeholders collaborate, invest and lead the way. We are ready to take on the next challenge as we work towards establishing a food-safe closed loop in the future!’