Valipac is a Belgian company that was founded in 1997 to stimulate and coordinate the recycling of commercial packaging.
With the Clean Site Circular demonstration project, we want to demonstrate that PE film packaging waste on building sites can be recycled locally, specifically into shrink sleevesfor the packaging of building materials. This project was part of our Clean Site System, launched in 2005 to increase the collection of packaging film waste from construction sites and return it to the building materials dealer.
Until 2017, most of this waste was still sent to China for further recycling. As a result, we did not have enough outlets for high-quality applications for the recycled raw material, and the demand for local recycling was not stimulated. By creating an application, we can increase that demand and take a big step towards a circular system.
In cooperation with the project partners, we created a PE compound consisting of 50% recycled PE films and a PE booster polymer (developed by Total Polymers). With this material, we produced shrink sleeves for the packaging of building materials.
The project thus demonstrates that a circular system for PE films can work. One of the project partners, Wienerberger, has already partly replaced its standard shrink sleeves for packaging bricks with recycled sleeves, which amounts to around 23 tonnes of recycled sleeves annually.
The project proves that waste PE film packaging on construction sites can be recycled into a raw material for the production of shrink sleeves for the packaging of building materials.
We developed a polymer composition that allows the production of recyclable film from general waste streams of PE films with at least as good properties as film from new material.
We communicated the results of this demonstration project to other companies inside and outside the building sector, and the application of the same principles to other film packaging is being investigated.
The project has led to intense cooperation between the different players in the material chain, which is essential for circular projects.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Do not simply assume that something is impossible, because science and technology are evolving rapidly. Unfortunately, the dissemination of knowledge is slower, which is why it is important to focus on the dissemination of the results obtained.
Recycled materials are not inferior to new materials in terms of quality and performance.
Printed and coloured PE films are detrimental to circularity. They mainly lead to grey or black recycled film, which is mostly used in non-circular applications (e.g. rubbish bags). Valipac wants to tackle this problem further in the future.
It is necessary to post-sort the waste from PE films in order to obtain a circular model. In this way, the value of the material is much better preserved. However, good sorting at the source remains important for the return in the material chain.
20.000tonnes recycling potential
20.000.000euro possible investment
40companies in dissemination
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Valipac continues to inform as many companies in the construction and packaging sector as possible about the circular shrink sleeves and the application of flat packaging films. We approached some fortycompanies to repeat the tests with their products. Several companies are positive about the results, and some have already switched to circular shrink film for packaging their products. By stimulating the demand for circular packaging made from PE film, the demand for local recycling will also increase and the recycling rate of PE films will rise in the future.
Valipac also wants to inform companies about the detrimental impact of printed and coloured films and to jointly come up with alternatives for the branding of products. To tackle this problem, Valipac has launched a new project with the support of Flanders Circular: "Erasable inks for Circular Foils". With this project, Valipac wants to investigate what possibilities there are in the material chain to remove printing more easily and to avoid excessive use of inks.