The Alpla Group, the global packaging solutions and recycling specialist, is investing in the construction of a recycling plant in Targu Mures, Romania as part of a joint venture with its partners. The plastic granulate recycled there in the future will come from PET bottles collected from household waste and will be used to manufacture new PET bottles. By creating the planned PET Recycling Team Targu Mures joint venture, Alpla and companies Ecohelp SRL (Romania) and United Polymer Trading AG (Switzerland) are each investing equally in the installation of an extrusion line to recycle post-consumer PET bottles at the Romanian partner’s site. They aim to produce 15,000 tonnes of food-grade post-consumer recycled PET (rPET) each year. The rPET granulate will then be used to manufacture new preforms and bottles, with an intention to strengthen the local materials cycle within the Central and South-Eastern Europe region.
The three partners contribute different areas of expertise to the joint venture. While Alpla acts as a recycling specialist and a preform and bottle manufacturer, Ecohelp supplies base material in the form of PET flakes that will go through an extrusion process to produce high-grade rPET granules. UPT in turn co-owns the rPET Upcycling facility Cumapol Emmen in The Netherlands and specialises in trading plastics and recycled material. The entire amount being invested in the plant and the associated building and infrastructure comes to roughly €7.5 million. The plant expansion will create 15 new jobs at the site in Targu Mures.
Alpla Chairman Günther Lehner, who is responsible for developing the company’s Sustainability and Circular Economy departments, emphasises the significance of the investment: "Our aim at Alpla now and in the future is to establish a bottle-to-bottle cycle – including in regions in which the collection and recycling of waste still has potential for development. By participating in this joint venture, we are taking a strategically important and sustainable step in this direction." Georg Lässer, Head of Corporate Recycling at Alpla, adds, "We are seeing consistent growing demand from our customers for recycled material, and this demand is worldwide and unbroken. It and our customers’ need to close local material cycles give us an opportunity to boost investment projects like these. With our two partners, we have brought together our different areas of expertise and are looking forward to a new form of collaboration."
Rainer Widmar, Regional Manager CEE at Alpla, emphasises the relevance for local customer relationships: "With this investment, we are bringing our recycling expertise to our customers in the region, letting us operate within the market at even closer proximity." The joint venture is subject to regulatory approval by competition authorities. The parties signed the contract for it on 9 September 2021, with production planned to commence in mid-2022. The parties have agreed not to disclose any further details.
In early 2021, the Alpla Group announced that it would invest an average of €50 million each year in the ongoing expansion of its recycling activities until 2025. In particular, it plans to globalise its activities in the area of high-quality recyclates in order to close the materials cycle in as many regions as possible. In all, the annual capacity of the Alpla recycling companies, joint ventures and partnerships amounts to approximately 130,000 tonnes of PET and 60,000 tonnes of PE.