CreaSolv® Pilot plant in Indonesia - Recycling of Polyethylene Sachets – Unilever (2015)

Small single-use plastic pouch packaging, so-called „sachets“ are very popular2018.11 Unilever Sachets in developing and emerging countries, because they allow low-income consumers to buy small amounts of quality products that would otherwise be unaffordable to them.  Empty flexible packaging is just thrown away or ends up in landfill because there exist no viable recycling technology and generally it lacks a waste logistic in those countries as well. The fact that globally only 14% of all plastic packaging is recycled explains the reports about polluted beaches and garbage patches in the oceans and why Asia is seen as the main problem. But actually there is a growing awareness that every spot on this earth is affected and industrialized countries have a big problem with plastic packaging as well.

2012 Unilever Sachet Pyrolyse IndienAsia is for a global company like Unilever a very important market and so the search for a solution to the problem started early, because sachets are multi-layer plastic compound systems which cannot be processed by the usual mechanical recycling processes.

In 2010 Unilever financed pilot projects in 4 countries aimed at using pyrolysis technique to turn sachet waste into fuel oil. With the encouraging project in India it could be demonstrated that fuel oil can be produced from sachets and other flexible plastic packaging waste1).  The intended commercialization failed due to the high cost for the collection and processing of plastic waste in relation to the created fuel value.

In 2011 the first contact was made between2017 Unilever CreaSolv Pilot Indonesien Unilever and Fraunhofer IVV & CreaCycle and it developed into a close cooperation with the objective to modify and adapt the CreaSolv® Process, so that a CreaSolv® Pilot plant for sachet recycling can be built in Indonesia.
After 3 years intensive development work the large-scale trials were successfully concluded in 2015 and Unilever placed the orders for the construction of the pilot plant. In 2017 the plant was completed in Germany3,4,5). After the successful acceptance the plant was dismantled, transported to Indonesia and reassembled.

On November 8, 2018 Unilever announced that the CreaSolv® Pilot plant is fully operational and they are ready to start examining the technical and commercial viability of this technology6). If successful the process will be commercialized and the technology will be made open source, available also to investors and competitors.
The CreaSolv® Plant is designed for high-quality polyethylene (PE) recycling, because 60% of the layers consist of this polymer. The recovered PE will be used for the production of new sachets. The energy consumption for the recycling of 6 kg PE is the same as for the production of 1 kg virgin polymer with the new technology, thus enabling a circular economy with a smaller environmental footprint. The facility currently processes approximately 3 tons sachet waste per day and Unilever invested approximately 10 Millionen Euros7).
2016.09.15 Indonesia plastic taxA successful commercialization depends on a functioning waste collection infrastructure, supported by government and industry, so that a substantially larger volume of several thousands of tons of flexible packaging waste can be made available.

To support Unilever’s effort they signed a 3 years collaboration agreement with the French water and waste management company Veolia aimed at improving waste collection and recycling of plastic packaging waste8,9). The joint project will start in India and Indonesia. Veolia will assist to implement collection solutions for plastic waste, add recycling capacities and develop new processes and business models in order to increase the recycling quota for plastics.  

 

 

Literature

  1. WWW Waste Management World “Unilever utilizes Pyroysis to create Fuel from Sachet Packaging” on 14.08.2012, last check 2018.11.12 – Link
  2. Unilever “Sachets – Pyrolysis project in India – video published 24.04.2012 on Youtube – Link
  3. Unilever Homepage “CreaSolv®: a breakthrough recycling technology we want to share”, published 26.05.2017, last check 12.11.2018 – Link 
  4. Labelpack Packlabel “Recycling für kleine Beutelverpackungen” vom 17.05.2017, last check 12.11.2018 – Link 
  5. WISNU TV - Unilever Indonesia Media Conference in Jakarta on 17 May 2017 - “Sachet Recycling with the CreaSolv® Process” - video published 11.06.2017 on Youtube – Link
  6. Unilever Homepage “Our solution for recycling plastic sachets takes another step forward” published 08.11.2018 - Link
  7. AntaraNews „Kumpulkan plastik sachet, kini ada teknologi daur ulangnya“ published 27 October 2018 – Link
  8. Unilever Homepage “ Unilever and Veolia sign collaboration agreement on Sustainable Packaging” published 24.10.2018 – Link
  9. ECOreporter “Veolia und Unilever: Partnerschaft für mehr Recycling” veröffentlicht am 25.10.2018 – Link
  10. Al Jazeera "Indonesia taxes shoppers to reduce plastic waste" published on YouTube on 15.09.2016 - Link
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