Plastic packaging specialist ALPLA operates state-of-the-art plants worldwide for the production of rPET (recycled PET) and rHDPE (recycled HDPE) under the ALPLArecycling brand. The calculation of the product carbon footprint by the independent consulting firm c7-consult now provides new data for a total of four plants in Mexico and Germany. CO
-savings of up to 87% compared to virgin material confirm the climate protection effect of recycled plastics and the ecological importance of regional “bottle-to-bottle” cycles.

ALPLA focuses on the circular economy

The international packaging specialist invests more than 50 million euros a year in recycling and uses state-of-the-art technologies for the production of recycled materials. With an installed and projected output capacity of 350,000 tons per year, the company is one of the world’s leading plastics recyclers. Analyses by life cycle assessment specialist c7-consult now confirm efficient production at a total of four locations in Mexico and Germany. ALPLArecycling produces rPET and rHDPE there, which produces up to 87 percent less CO
than virgin material.

“The figures confirm our approach. We produce climate-friendly recycling solutions with a regional focus, process them into new packaging and thus promote the ‘bottle-to-bottle’ cycle. This is how we ensure safe, affordable and sustainable packaging solutions worldwide,” emphasizes Georg Lässer, Director Business Development, Procurement and Sales Recycling at ALPLA.

Pioneers for the circular economy in Mexico

ALPLArecycling produces 30,000 tons of rHDPE annually at its recycling plant in Toluca, Mexico. Production in Toluca generates 0.69 kg of CO
e per kilogram. That is 70 percent fewer emissions than with virgin HDPE material (2.32 g CO
e per kilogram). ALPLA has been operating the first PET recycling plant in Latin America since 2005 in the joint venture IMER (Industria Mexicana de Reciclaje S.A. de C.V.) together with Coca-Cola FEMSA and The Coca Cola Company in Toluca. It has an annual production capacity of 16,000 tons of rPET. According to the analysis, production causes only 0.38 kg CO
e per kilogram, which is 87 percent less than virgin PET (2.90 kg CO
e per kilogram).

The rPET production capacity in Mexico will be increased to 51,000 tons next year. In cooperation with Coca-Cola FEMSA, the PLANETA (Planta Nueva Ecología de Tabasco) plant is currently being built in Cunduacán. In terms of collection, the joint venture partners are using the model of
model of paid acceptance of used PET bottles
and social cooperation. “Recycling is a key element in the packaging solutions of the future. We want to convince people of the benefits and base this on sound data. The precise analysis of our plants also enables us to improve our ecological footprint in a targeted manner,” explains Carlos Torres Ballesteros, ALPLA Managing Director Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Germany: household collection

ALPLA processes used plastic packaging into recyclate. The recycled material produced in Mexico and Germany causes up to 87 percent less CO2 emissions than virgin material. (Photo: Alpla)

With an annual production capacity of 43,000 tons of rPET, ALPLArecycling is one of the largest PET recycling companies in Germany. Material from the Yellow Bag is processed at the site in Bitterfeld-Wolfen (Saxony-Anhalt). To this end, unique sorting and processing facilities were built in 2019. The recycling of PET bottles from household collections leads to a slightly higher energy requirement for washing. In Bitterfeld-Wolfen, for example, each kilogram of rPET produces 0.93 kg of CO
e are generated. This means that the recycled material produces 68 percent fewer emissions than virgin material. At the PET recycling site in Bad Salzuflen (North Rhine-Westphalia), the figure is only 0.68 kg CO
e per kilogram, which corresponds to a reduction of 77 percent.

ALPLArecycling‘s recycling plants in Austria and Poland, where the PCF has also been calculated in recent years, prove that there is still potential for optimization. With the additional use of renewable energies, rPET can be produced with a footprint of up to 0.21 kg CO
e per kilogram, which corresponds to a reduction of up to 93 percent. Conversions to renewable energies are also currently being examined for plants in other countries.

Cover photo: ALPLArecycling operates 13 recycling plants worldwide for the production of rPET and rHDPE, four of which are joint ventures. (Photo: ALPLA)