• Interzero develops mechanical recycling process with chemically controlled rheology modification to produce blow molded products from 100% lightweight packaging material from post-consumer streams, previously only suitable for extrusion processes

  • European Patent Office recognizes novel recycling process based on chemically controlled modification without addition of newly produced plastic and re-sorting of used packaging

  • A special combination of additives produces high-density polyethylene (HDPE), whose flowability during processing is comparable to that of virgin plastic

Vienna, June 15, 2023 – After many years of development work, Europe’s leading recycling service provider Interzero has patented a process that significantly improves the recycling of HDPE plastics. The effort required for re-sorting polyethylene lightweight packaging (LVP) waste, such as that from the yellow garbage can, is eliminated, as is the addition of primary plastic of the so-called PCC (post consumer commercial) or PIR (post industrial) classes.

Mechanical recycling with chemically controlled rheology modification
The patent relates to the production of a reprocessed plastic material from LVP containing at least 95% HDPE. It is a mechanical recycling process with a chemically controlled rheology modification for the further production of blow molded products from 100% LVP post-consumer material, which were previously qualitatively suitable only for extrusion processes.

The process was developed at Interzero’s own competence center for plastics recycling in Maribor, Slovenia. The Competence Center is the only research facility in the EU that is government-accredited based on the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 laboratory standard and specializes in the development and analysis of recycled plastics. “We look back here on many years of experience and expertise in plastics development and analytics,” says Markus Müller-Drexel, CEO Interseroh+, the recycling alliance of Interzero, Europe’s leading provider of closed-loop solutions.

The laboratory has developed steadily in recent years and is now entering the market with an expanded range of services. Five laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art technical equipment for evaluating material quality – from mechanical, thermal, chemical and rheological properties to migration, sensing and color – also feature material processing machinery and an NIR separator for simulating the behavior of packaging during sorting.

The new performance is also reflected in the HDPE patent. “With the process, we achieve significant savings in raw materials, energy,CO2 emissions and effort in sorting light packaging waste in the production of recycled plastics, summarizes Dr. Manica Ulcnik-Krump, managing director of Interzero Plastics Innovations. “The savings mean that the sustainability balance sheet is world-leading compared with conventional processes. We are thus once again a particularly large step closer to our vision of a world without waste.”

A special combination of additives modifies the flow properties of the polyethylene in such a way that the viscosity is increased and the melt flow rate is reduced. This enables the leap from the previous extrusion quality to the blow molding quality suitable for bottle production.

“The successful patenting of this new process shows once again that Interzero is the innovation driver for Circular Economy. With the process, we succeed in closing the LVP recycling loop, so we offer a solution for a truly functioning circular economy,”
says Martin Ulke, Managing Director of Interzero Circular Solutions Europe.

New process ensures significant savings in production
For Interzero and its customers, this means significant savings in virgin material and thus petroleum and CO2 emissions. In addition, further CO2 emissions can be avoided through saved energy during sorting. Sorting plant capacity can be better utilized for the ever-increasing volume of used packaging. When blow molding new recycled products, manufacturers can keep their standard technologies.

The Slovenian company Rupar Plastika is one of the first to use the new process. It produces hollow plastic parts from bottles to caps for well-known manufacturers, such as BORA, and offers a range of different plastic processing technologies, including extrusion blow molding, injection stretch blow molding, injection blow molding and injection molding. Special cleaning cartridges (two-chamber system) have been developed and produced for the innovative BORA Flexback Oven X BO.

“With newly used plastics, changes often have to be made to the production lines. We save this by using the new Interzero process. For us, this is an immense time and cost advantage,” says Rok Miklavčič, Head of Production and Sales at Rupar Plastika.

Competence center for plastics recycling sets standards throughout Europe

The accreditation confirms that the facility meets the international requirements for mechanical and physical analysis of plastics. The competence center is thus setting standards throughout Europe in the implementation of uniform quality standards. Thus, it helps Interzero’s customers test packaging of different materials for recyclability and improve it. The experts examine not only the materials and design of the packaging, but also, for example, the practical sorting capability. Positive results are also confirmed by the “Made for Recycling” label that Interzero developed together with the bifa Umweltinstitut and that was confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV.

The European Patent Office has recognized the process under patent number EP2770016.

About Interzero:

Interzero is one of the leading service providers around the closure of product, material and logistics loops as well as innovation leader in plastics recycling with the largest sorting capacity in Europe. Under the guiding principle of “zero waste solutions,” the company supports more than 50,000 customers across Europe in the responsible use of recyclable materials, helping them to improve their own sustainability performance and conserve primary resources. With around 2,000 employees, the company generates sales of over one billion euros (2021). According to Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Interzero’s recycling activities could save one million tons of greenhouse gases compared to primary production and over 12.5 million tons of primary raw materials in 2021 alone. For more information, visit www.interzero.at.

Press contact:

Ketchum Ltd.
Sebastian farmer
1030 Vienna, Guglgasse 7-9
Tel.: +43 664 808 69 107