Agricultural film recyclers LyondellBasell and AFA Nord have announced a 50:50 joint venture to enhance the recycling of post-commercial flexible secondary packaging waste.

The joint venture, known as LMF Nord GmbH, intends to construct a mechanical recycling plant in Northern Germany that will convert Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) and Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) waste into high-quality recycled plastic materials suitable for flexible packaging. Production is set to commence in early 2025.

Challenges of recycling secondary plastic packaging

Secondary plastic packaging, including stretch or shrink film, is primarily used to secure consumer goods during transportation and storage, safeguarding them from contamination and damage.

However, recycling this material into premium raw materials that meet the packaging industry’s requirements for strength and transparency has been a significant challenge.

Joint venture offers solutions for the circular economy

The new joint venture will supply recycled LDPE and LLDPE materials, complementing LyondellBasell’s existing CirculenRecover range of high-density polyethene and polypropylene products.

LyondellBasell’s executive vice-president of circular and low carbon solutions Yvonne van der Laan highlights the venture’s contribution to advanced recycling and the company’s integrated hub strategy.

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By investing upstream to provide feedstock from various plastic waste streams, LyondellBasell aims to deliver a comprehensive suite of solutions and remain a trusted partner for its customers.

Recycling unit details and market potential

The upcoming recycling unit is projected to manufacture 26,000t per year of recycled LDPE and LLDPE grades, which will be marketed under LyondellBasell’s CirculenRecover product family.

These materials will find applications in stretch films, collation shrink films, electrical appliances, washing detergent bottles, suitcases and more. TM Recycling GmbH, a sister company of AFA Nord and a member of the Mensing Group, will be responsible for supplying the necessary feedstock to LMF Nord GmbH.

Contributing to a sustainable circular economy

AFA Nord managing director Andreas Mensing emphasises their extensive experience in producing recycled materials through Germany’s sole agricultural film recycling plant.

With LyondellBasell’s partnership, they aim to advance the circular economy and increase the availability of recycled solutions for flexible packaging applications.

This joint venture signals a promising step towards boosting the circularity of secondary plastic packaging and addressing the challenges associated with recycling this crucial material.

By leveraging their expertise and resources, LyondellBasell and AFA Nord are set to make significant contributions to a sustainable future.