Saperatec opens facility to recycle aluminium films from beverage cartons

Saperatec has officially opened its facility for the production of secondary plastic and aluminium from composite packaging waste in Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, in the presence of the Minister for Economic Affairs, Tourism, Agriculture, and Forestry of the German State of Saxony-Anhalt, Sven Schulze, and numerous other partners and guests. 

In this facility, industrial-scale plastic/aluminium composite films will be recycled from beverage cartons and other composite packaging waste.

Beverage cartons primarily consist of fibre, plastic, and aluminium layers. The fibre component of beverage cartons collected from households in Germany has been recovered and used to produce cardboard packaging or hygiene paper for decades.

Saperatec now separates and cleans plastic and aluminium into pure streams. A novel washing process developed by Saperatec is employed for this purpose. Using state-of-the-art recycling technology, waste plastic is then purified to the extent that polyethylene granules are produced for the manufacture of new plastic films, among other applications. 

Packaging manufacturers can use this secondary raw material to produce new film packaging, thus closing the material cycle.

Dr. Sebastian Kernbaum, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Saperatec, explains that “as a start-up company, Saperatec has systematically developed the mechanical-physical recycling process for delaminating multilayered composite materials from laboratory scale to large-scale implementation over 10 years. Water-based, reusable washing fluids are used to optimize the sustainability of recycling. 

“In addition to separating plastic from metal and paper layers, the separation of glass composites is also the subject of further development work.”

The company employs over 60 staff in Dessau in production, research & development, engineering, and administration. Thorsten Hornung, CEO of the company, explains that “the development and industrialisation of the novel process would not have been possible without the consistent support of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, the European Union, and our venture capital investors such as Henkel AG & Co. KGaA and eCAPITAL.

For Sven Schulze, Minister for Economic Affairs, Tourism, Agriculture, and Forestry of Saxony-Anhalt, the establishment of technology leaders like Saperatec is a significant step towards the material use of waste: “Saxony-Anhalt offers attractive conditions for young and innovative industrial companies. With the establishment of saperatec, the circular economy in our state continues to gain momentum. At the same time, attractive and high-quality jobs are being created in the Dessau-Roßlau region.”

Dr. Robert Reck, Mayor of Dessau-Roßlau, comments on today’s start of production: “As a traditionally innovative economic location and at the same time the headquarters of the Federal Environment Agency, the establishment of saperatec GmbH with its innovative, resource-saving recycling process perfectly complements the diverse industry portfolio and corporate landscape in Dessau-Roßlau. 

“We are very pleased with the extensive investment in the location and the additional jobs created in our twin city, as well as with this successful combination of a new and environmentally friendly production and circular economy process here in Dessau-Roßlau.”

“As a leading adhesive manufacturer, we have been consistently driving sustainable development towards a circular economy for many years,” says Björn Schlömer, Commercial Financial Director Packaging Global at Henkel and member of the advisory board of saperatec GmbH. 

“Through our strategic cooperation with saperatec, we have access to state-of-the-art recycling technology, and a comprehensive range of our adhesives is proven to be compatible with saperatec’s debonding processes.”

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