Austrian packaging producer Alpla and its joint venture partners have started up a PET recycling plant in Targu Mures, Romania. The facility will produce around 18,000 tonnes a year of food-grade recycled PET pellet, which will serve as a raw material for manufacturing new preforms and bottles, Alpla announced this week.
Around €7.5m was invested in the recycling plant, according to Alpla. As input material, the new extrusion line built by the Austrian plastics machinery specialist Starlinger uses flakes obtained from PET bottles in household waste collections. The flakes are supplied by local joint venture partner Ecohelp.
"The growing importance of local recycling processes calls for increased commitment in the region. Together with our partners, we combine strengths, increase the processing quality of the recycled PET material and ensure the long-term supply of the southeast European market,” commented Georg Lässer, Director Business Development, Procurement and Sales Recycling at Alpla.
"The collaboration is a great example of how to improve local recycling and ensure sustainable economic development. We are filling a gap in the market for high-quality recycled material in Romania and neighbouring countries,” said Mihail Moloiu, General Manager at PET Recycling Team Targu Mures.
There is also potential for expansion, as the new building has room for a second extrusion line, which would double the capacity, according to the company. The plant currently has around 20 employees.
The joint venture PET Recycling Team Targu Mures was founded in 2021. Besides Alpla and Ecohelp, the third partner is Swiss firm United Polymer Trading (UPT), which has "an extensive distribution network for plastics and recycled material”, according to Alpla.
Total PET recycling capacity of exceeds 200,000 tonnes
In early 2021, Alpla had announced its plans to invest an average of €50m a year until 2025 to expand its recycling activities. The production capacity of the group’s companies and partnerships worldwide currently amounts to around 203,000 tonnes of rPET and 74,000 tonnes of rHDPE, according to the packaging producer.
These plants are located in Austria, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Romania and Thailand. The family-owned company, headquartered in Hard in Vorarlberg, says it is currently implementing further international recycling projects. In 2022, Alpla reported annual revenues of €5.1bn.