The Austrian and German Green Dot organisations Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA) and Duales System Holding GmbH & Co. KG (DSD) are teaming up with the waste management company Bernegger GmbH to build a new sorting facility for lightweight packaging waste. The new €60m plant will be located in the future raw materials park in Enns, Austria.
The cross-border joint venture will operate a facility with an annual sorting capacity of around 100,000 tonnes of lightweight packaging waste (plastics, metals, beverage cartons) collected from households. It is slated for commissioning in 2024. DSD’s chief executive officer Michael Wiener said that DSD and ARA would provide the packaging waste needed to keep the plant running. Both companies’ customers would also have access to the recyclables extracted there. The three companies each hold a third of the shares in the new company and, according to Mr Wiener, will also each cover a third of the investment costs.
Achieving the 50 per cent EU recycling target that will apply to plastic packaging starting in 2025 is the international joint venture’s goal. Austria currently has a 25 per cent recycling rate for plastic packaging. "We therefore need to double our output in the next three years,” remarked ARA’s chief executive officer, Christoph Scharff.
According to Mr Scharff, Austria’s current sorting capacity is not high enough to meet EU recycling targets. The country still had part of its packaging waste sorted in other countries at the moment, he said. Industry insiders expect a sharp uptick in sorting volumes in Austria in the years ahead, with an estimated growth of 150,000 tonnes per year.
The new facility is also to close a geographical gap in sorting infrastructure in northern Austria. "We are building the plant at the Ennshafen port in Upper Austria, which is the optimal location due to its geographical position and logistical links to road, rail and water. This - in conjunction with the know-how of the Bernegger Group, especially in the field of rail logistics - will enable us to transport large quantities in a climate-friendly way in the future,” commented Bernegger’s managing director Kurt Bernegger.
Austrian sorting firm Hackl files for restructuring
At virtually the same time that the project pursued by ARA, DSD and Bernegger was unveiled, two Austrian companies active in waste sorting, Oswald Hackl and Hackl Container Abfallbehandlungs GmbH, disclosed that they are in financial difficulties. These companies have filed applications for restructuring proceedings without self-administration with the local district court. Hackl sorts materials including lightweight packaging waste from the ARA compliance scheme. Following a fire in 2017, Hackl built a new €13m plant in 2019 that processes refused-derived fuel (RDF) and sorts lightweight packaging waste. At the time, it was the first new sorting plant to be built in Austria in twelve years with 38,000 tonnes of capacity, including 15,000 tonnes for plastic packaging.
Despite raising revenues since 2018, the companies have reportedly filed for restructuring because of falling demand for recycled materials due to the pandemic and because of a backlog of investment in technology, which resulted in a cash crunch at the end of 2021. Both firms are offering their creditors a 20 per cent debt repayment quota, payable within two years from acceptance, which is the minimum amount set by law.