Dairy firm Arla has teamed up with German packaging firm Südpack on a new method to recycle plastic waste, giving a new life to packaging that otherwise would have been sent to the incinerator.
At its Rødkærsbro dairy in Denmark, where Arla produces mozzarella, the company uses a specially-designed plastic film to mature the cheese over a two-week period, following which the plastic film has historically been sent for incineration.
Working with Südpack, the company is now carrying out a large-scale test using a process known as pyrolysis, to convert 80 tonnes of plastic waste a year into new packaging.
The pyrolysis process converts plastic waste into oil by exposing it to very high temperatures in a controlled environment.
“Instead of sending our plastic films to incineration, resulting in a one-off energy gain, we recycle them and use the recycled material to create new packaging thus reducing the carbon footprint as well as the need for virgin fossil plastic," commented Grane Maaløe, lead packaging development manager at Arla Foods.
"It might sound obvious but in the complex world of recycling this is an exciting step in our journey towards fully circular packaging."
Per tonne of plastic waste handled, the full processing operation, including the pyrolysis process, emits up to 50% less than sending to incineration.
Arla and Südpack said that they will test this new approach with 80 tonnes of plastic this year, before evaluating the results.
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