Alpla Prt Radomsko
Alpla Prt Radomsko
Alpla Prt Radomsko
Alpla Prt Radomsko
Alpla Prt Radomsko

Packaging recycling plants support circular economy

July 11, 2023
As both producer and recycler, ALPLA Group expands PET recycling to new regions as more focus on plastics sustainability

Packaging and recycling now go hand in hand. The packaging industry, specifically the use of plastics, has come under scrutiny more and more often as companies lean into sustainability efforts, including new recycled materials. ALPLA Group produces packaging systems for plastics processing and bottling and is focused on innovative recycled plastics. The company operates a number of polyethlene terephathalte (PET) recycling plants around the world, most recently, expanding into South Africa and Poland.

Construction will start this summer on a new recycling plant in the South African coastal town of Ballito (Figure 1). The plant is planned for completion in fall 2024. ALPLA’s 60-million-euro investment in the new plant is supported by new headquarters in Lanseria near Johannesburg, which was completed in fall 2022. The new 90,000-square-foot recycling facility is the company’s first investment in a food-grade PET recycling plant. It will output 35,000 tones of recycled material per year from 60,000 tones of used PET bottles. The recycled PET (rPET) is a flake and pellet material that ALPLA uses to produce the majority of its bottles (Figure 2).

“Our goal is a bottle-to-bottle cycle at the location of our activities. In this way, as a recycler and producer, we can secure the supply of safe, affordable and sustainable packaging worldwide and at the same time promote awareness of the recyclable material,” said ALPLA CEO Philipp Lehner. The new plant will increase the annual production capacity for rPET and rHDPE (recycled high-density polyethylene).

ALPLA is also expanding a recycling plant in Radomsko, Poland, where an eight-million-euro investment in a third extrusion line at the site will increase production capacity from 30,000 to 54,000 tonnes of food-grade rPET. 10 years after its opening, the expanded recycling plant will become one of Europe’s largest for rPET pellets.

“ALPLA stands for sustainable packaging solutions made of plastic. As a system provider, we develop products optimized for recycling, process high proportions of recyclate in production and take care of efficient recycling. With our global focus on recycling and our commitment in Central and Eastern Europe, we make a significant contribution to the regional bottle-to-bottle cycle,” said Dietmar Marin, ALPLA managing director, recycling division.

ALPLA said the market for high-quality products made from recycled materials is growing not only in Europe, Asia and North and South America, but also in South Africa.

PET is a commonly used thermoplastic polymer resin used for clothing fibers and containers for liquids and foods, as well as in thermoforming for manufacturing molded products from a plastic sheet.

ALPLA’s efforts are in part to me new EU regulations. The European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) outlines the minimum requirements for recycled content by 2025. PET beverage bottles must incorporate at least 25% recycled plastic by 2025.

ALPLA invests around 50 million euros annually in the global expansion of its recycling activities. This includes lighthouse projects such as reusable PET, bottles made from 100% rPET and the recent start of production at the joint venture recycling plant in Thailand. After the June 2023 announcement of the recycling plant in Ballito, South Africa, the total annual production capacity of all recycling companies and collaborations is around 266,000 tonnes for rPET and 74,000 tonnes for rHDPE.