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OMV and Alba Sorting Plant Closes Recycling Loop
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OMV and Alba Sorting Plant Closes Recycling Loop

By George Gill - Mar 21, 2022

Austria’s OMV and Germany’s Alba Recycling announced March 10 an agreement to build a sorting plant in Wildurn, Germany that will further sort mixed plastic waste for chemical recycling, with a final investment decision expected in 2022. 

Many sustainability efforts use technology to convert recycled plastics into feedstocks for creating new products, while others seek to improve the mechanical sorting of the plastics. The recently announced agreement aims at synergy between those approaches, like a super hero duo using their complementary powers together.

The goal is to combine OMV’s chemical recycling technology with Alba’s leading sorting technology to take the next step in the circular economy for a world without waste, Axel Schweitzer, owner of Alba Recycling, said. “Chemical recycling is not a rival for mechanical recycling, as mechanical recycling is the most efficient way to deal with mono-fractions from the sorting process,” Schweitzer explained. “But chemical recycling is the only solution for mixed plastic waste like composite and multilayer plastics. We urgently need to recycle this material as well to close the loop for our customers. OMV and Alba Recycling will turn this mixed plastic waste, which is incinerated today, into an important source to produce enough recycling material for the sustainable production of goods and packaging.”

The collaboration will include a sorting plant designed by Alba Recycling to process up to 200,000 metric tons per year of post-consumer mixed waste into suitable feedstock for production of virgin polyolefins. The sorting process facilitates further extraction of polyolefins from a plastic waste fraction that now requires incineration. The sorting process was tested at industrial scale, the companies said, and the output was successfully processed as feedstock in OMV’s ReOil pilot plant.

OMV has operated the ReOil pilot plant at the Schwechat Refinery in Austria since 2018. The plant is capable of turning 100 kilograms of used plastics into 100 liters of synthetic feedstock per hour. The pilot plant has run for 14,500 hours since its commissioning, the company said, enabling an improvement in the thermal cracking process and supporting further scaling up of the ReOil technology. OMV said it has taken the final investment decision for a scaled-up demo plant with a capacity of 16,000 t/y, with operations expected in 2023. OMV said its ultimate goal is to establish a commercially viable, industrial-scale plant by 2026.

Alba Recycling operates five sorting plants in Germany for lightweight packaging and sorts about one-third of Germany’s lightweight packaging waste, amounting to more than 800,000 t/y. The company claims to have Germany’s largest sorting capacity today, combined with high output quality and high recycling rates.

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