Back into the cycle

Through recycling to raw material

"Turning waste into raw material" is how the NRW Environment Ministry puts it. What is meant is the collection, sorting and recycling of plastic waste. The political goal of Germany and also Europe includes using significantly more recyclates in the production of new plastic products. But this is not so easy, because the quality of recycled plastic from waste was often inferior in the past. But this has changed decisively. Lobbe subsidiary FVH Folienveredelung Hamburg produces type granulates from LDPE films and mixed plastics, whose products are even allowed to bear the Blue Angel seal of approval. However, the production process involves considerable effort. The plastics that end up for recycling in the disposal chain are not only mixed, but also contaminated. And in any case, private plastic waste from lightweight packaging (LVP) only represents a smaller proportion. By far the larger share of plastic waste comes from the commercial sector, for example the automotive industry.

Recycling with quality

The direct recycling of plastics from WEEE for new products only works to an acceptable level of quality if the plastics are separated by type as purely as possible. This is guaranteed by sorting plants for recyclable materials. Lobbe operates two modern sorting plants for light packaging in Germany at the Iserlohn site and, together with the Meinhardt company, in Gernsheim with a total annual processing capacity of almost 250,000 tonnes. A high effort for a packaging that is only used for 15 minutes on average. "We are still faced with major challenges from incorrectly discarded packaging such as nappies, multilayer packaging whose wafer-thin layers can hardly be separated from each other, black packaging or composite packaging of different materials that cannot be detected by the separation units," says Michael Wieczorek, Managing Director of Lobbe Entsorgung West GmbH & Co KG.

The investment costs for a state-of-the-art fleet of vehicles for waste collection, the personnel costs and the high-tech sorting facilities as well as the subsequent cleaning and melting down process are high. FVH is considered a specialist in the recycling of soiled and mixed plastic films as well as mixed plastics, and produces high-quality type granules made of low-density polyethylene for the plastics processing industry. The use of recyclates in products is expected to increase to 10 million tons by 2025, according to the Polyolefin Circular Economy platform. With innovative processes for washing, separation and drying, FVH produces raw material qualities that far exceed what has been known to date. Products made from these granules are entitled to bear the Blue Angel environmental label. This opens up recycling possibilities for plastic waste, the utilization of which was difficult in the past: Not only can buckets, tubs, lawn grids or trash bags be formed from them in high quality, but waste containers can also be made from the high-quality type granulates of FVH, in combination with regrind.

Zentek - Lobbe closes the loop

Lobbe is the largest shareholder in Zentek, which together with ten other providers maps the dual system in Germany and is registered by the German government's central body. Zentek licenses packaging before it is placed on the market, collects lightweight packaging, glass, paper, cardboard, cartons (PPK) from private households and offers services for commercial plastic waste and its disposal. Zentek ranks in the top third nationwide for the collection of PPK, glass and LVP. Lobbe is one of only a few companies in Germany to have a complete plastics cycle through its own fields of activity and shareholdings: starting with the collection and sorting of light packaging into plastic fractions, through processing into type granulates and, through cooperation with its partner SSI Schäfer, to the production of waste containers from recyclates. "We are one of the few companies in Germany that can map such a complete material cycle," Michael Wieczorek notes with a certain pride.


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