eMag by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT
With only 50% of plastic bottles today being recycled, the recycling industry is still developing. And that is the specialty of France Plastiques Recyclage at its Limay facility, a plant where one plastic bottle creates a totally new plastic bottle. To explain:
Located along the Seine near Paris, the France Plastiques Recyclage (FPR) plant at the Autonomous Port of Limay, has set itself a mission: to resurrect bottles made of PET (polyethylene terephtalate). This material is used mainly to make bottles, jars, plastic film and sheets, fibres, etc. Being part of the thermoplastics family, PET is recyclable.
Resurrecting this plastic bottle is a two-stage operation. The first step is selective collection using special lorries. The bottles are sent to sorting centres to be separated from other packaging and are squeezed into bales. The bales are then shipped by river – to satisfy the objective to reduce the amount of material transported by road. The bottles then arrive at the France Plastiques Recyclage plant to be processed and converted into granules that can be incorporated into the fabrication of new bottles or food-grade packaging.
In practice, bottles are sorted by an infrared system then visually checked to remove unwanted material before being ground into flakes and washed. A flotation system is then used to separate the PET flakes from the PEHD flakes that come from bottle tops, stoppers, etc. The PET flakes then undergo extrusion and polycondensation, that is, they are heated to a very high temperature to create a single homogeneous material which is then used to produce high-quality granules similar to the original raw material. The 40,000 metric tons of PET bales received at France Plastiques Recyclage produces 30,000 metric tons of recycled PET granules or r-PET.
In the final stage, tanker lorries deliver the material to bottlers or preformers (who create the bottle shape) to produce new bottles. The circle is closed. Thanks to leading-edge technology, France Plastiques Recyclage has reduced water and energy consumption by 50%, compared to the normal PET recycling process. Drinking water is introduced in the rinsing step but is then reused in the following cycle in the washing, grinding and prewashing steps. This recycling process is therefore innovative in every respect. It is why the company has obtained AFSSA certification for the total decontamination of its PET. The r-PET can also be used for other applications in pharmacology and cosmetics.