As the costs of virgin material remain consistently high, it’s no wonder that recycling equipment manufacturers are expanding and innovating, and, in one case, doing better than ever. Austria-based Erema, the global leader in the market for the development and production of plastic recycling systems and components, achieved a record turnover of €115 million from April 2011 to March 2012, recording its best fiscal year of all time and a 40% increase over the previous year. Moreover, this result was an incredible 25% up on the former record year of 2007/08—prior to the economic crisis.
A schematic illustrating the Corema concept.
The Erema recycling system uses a multi-purpose cutting/compacting unit and durable single-screw extruder, which processes the melt through the filtration system. The filtered melt is then directly fed into the co-rotating, self-cleaning twin-screw extruder from Coperion, which is equipped with a degassing unit. The single-step melting concept and short, defined residence time minimizes shearing impact. The direct feeding of high-quality melt from a single screw results in very low energy costs. Filling, blending, and reinforcing occurs in a single-step process.
A spokesperson at the Erema booth was emphatic about the benefits of the system: “The two-in-one system offers a high-quality regranulation system that yields a very high-value final product using low-priced raw material as input. We think it’s a really big step forward, and one that can mean a lot of savings.“
With the introduction of the redesigned L:Gran recycling line at the stand in Milan, another Austrian manufacturer of plastics recycling machinery, Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH (NGR), was showing off a fully re-engineered “light version” of the company’s S:GRAN system that is suitable for in-house postindustrial scrap applications. Like its big brother, the L:Gran machine features NGR’s patented one-step cutter-feeder-extruder technology, which combines a single-shaft cutter and screw extruder in one unit, eliminating the need for pre-cutting and densification of the material. The material is fed directly into the extruder without losing the frictional heat generated during the cutting process, which guarantees a high quality of recycled pellets with minimal loss of physical characteristics. Reprocessing costs are low, and the “dump-and-run” mode makes it possible to run the machines with intermittent operator attention and still get consistently high output rates.
In redesigning the L:Gran, the shredder has become more easily accessible for faster cleanouts and faster material changeovers. The recycling lines are fully automated, and now feature “single-button” start-ups and shutdowns, eliminating problems with restarts with a full hopper and extruder screw. The design of the machine, which is extremely cost-efficient for in-line and off-line applications, is compact and robust. The combination of low power consumption, small footprint, low operating costs, and low manpower requirements, plus a pellet output rate of up to 230 kg/hr, make the L:Gran an economical choice for reprocessing film edge trims, fill rolls, or loose material.
At the stand of recycling equipment maker Tecnova, the company’s Refil/1 in-line system for reclaiming film scrap was being shown. Production rates of the system, which can handle a wide range of materials, including biopolymers, are claimed to be 40-45kg/hr.
Also on view was the company's Mini 60 line, which the company says is able to process bioplastic, in addition to LDPE/HDPE/PP film. The line is equipped with a special grinder, a die-face cutter, and a cooling system, all specifically designed to be able to handle biopolymers as well as conventional plastics. The regenerated granules can be directly re-introduced into the extrusion process for the production of (biodegradable) film.
Tecnova's E130/54D and E160/54D double-degassing recycling lines are available with silo and forced feeding to recycle film scraps, or with hopper feeding to process ground materials.