Solid Waste & Recycling

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AMUT recycles 1.5 million PET post-consumer bottles every hour

Today, 1,500,000 post-consumer PET bottles are recycled every hour of every day through-out the year in the various AMUT PET recycling plants around the globe.Contributing to the reduction of the carbon foot-print and improved recycling...


Today, 1,500,000 post-consumer PET bottles are recycled every hour of every day through-out the year in the various AMUT PET recycling plants around the globe.

Contributing to the reduction of the carbon foot-print and improved recycling efforts is the startup of the latest two big plants in Mexico and France; the first PETSTAR is located in Toluca, Mexico and the second FPR near Paris, France.

The design of both plants is based on the best washing technology, producing flakes to be used to make new PET bottles; accordingly, demanding specifications are followed in order to obtain the purest standards for r-PET material.

The Toluca plant, located near Mexico City, has an hourly out-put of 3,000 kg of finish r-PET product and is part of the total project that amounted to $35 million that PETSTAR started up in the beginning of the 2009. After the AMUT washing process, the r-PET flakes are converted into granules for bottle-to-bottle application through the Bühler SSP (Solid State Processing) plant.

These three multi-national companies in conjunction are producing r-PET material for many international brands of waters and carbonated beverages. Test results and certification inspired the companies to buy 90 per cent of production for their bottle-to-bottle process.

AMUT is proud in achieving product purification given that post-consumer bottles in Mexico are extremely dirty, as most come directly from the landfills and are not collected at curbside or via deposit-refund systems.

A highlight of the plant is AMUT’s patented whole bottle pre-washing system with hot high friction washing. By utilizing minimum detergents and special water distribution technology, sterilization is achieved. The plant requires only one litre of water for every kilogram of r-PET material, saving operational costs.

Special filters are fitted in the various stages of the washing process to ensure the washing water characteristics remain unchanged in each stage.

Plant operation is fully automatic and controlled by a central PC, giving information about the status of the various machines, processes and devices during the washing process. All values are saved in real-time and trend graphics allow historical production data to be reviewed and saved. This is important in meeting strict standards associated with the production of materials used in food applications.

PETSTAR will double the plant’s throughput by adding a second AMUT washing line in the same facility, reclaiming over 120,000,000 pounds of PET bottles annually.

In Paris, France AMUT has also started up the world largest recycling plant for PET bottles that was purchased by France Plastique Recyclage. As of September this plant will convert 40,000 tonnes of PET bottles into high quality r-FET flakes each year, with an hourly throughput of 4,000 kg of finish r-PET product.

Based on the same technology of PETSTAR plant, the Parisian site has technological advancements. The 5.5 tonnes of hourly input of post-consumer material, corresponding to between 20 and 25 bales per hour, requires a high-speed bale breaking system that can remove steel straps as well. Bale strapping wire is automatically cut and recovered in small pieces for recycling.

A patented “cold” high friction whole bottle pre-wash technology replaces the traditional hot system. The new technology can be used to treat PET bottles, while allowing for power savings and reduced capital costs. The final r-PET results are the same.

Since the post-consumer PET bales is contaminated with non-PET polymers as well as coloured PET bottles, separation in the new plant is performed by three NIR/Colour detectors in sequence, and a final NIR/Colour detector to re-check and verify the materials discharged. This is done after the whole bottle wash, which removes all the exterior dirt and almost all the labels on the bottles, allowing the detectors to operate at maximum efficiency.

AMUT developed a new design for the flake washing module: a station where the PET flake washing sections are placed in one structure, as a single unit. In the middle of the module is the friction washer that eliminates organic pollutants and glue.

To obtain “bottle-to-bottle” certification, the r-PET washing plant is combined with a purification system from STARLINGER for the SSP. Evian, a well-known French mineral water company, will be one of the many clients to use the re-generated PET to make new bottles.

Anthony Georges is with AMUT North America. Contact Anthony at a. georges@amutnorthamerica.com


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