Collection is the first step in a successful recycling process, however, collection systems vary across the EU. As result, EXTR:ACT will advice on industry best practices to ensure that beverage cartons are collected in the most effective manner in order to ensure recycling takes place.
High quality recycling is closely impacted by the effectiveness of the sorting process by which materials are recycled. EXTR:ACT researches optimal sorting systems to ensure new technologies and solutions are in place to improve the yield and the quality of collected materials in support of the overall recycling process.
Recycling of beverage cartons and similar fibre based multi-material packaging is a relatively simple process and has been in place, with proven positive results, for many years. Fibre packaging can be easily separated to get valuable secondary materials that contribute to a circular economy.
In Europe, we currently have roughly twenty paper and board mills with specialised equipment that are able to process used beverage cartons. One of our main objectives is to identify opportunities to increase this capacity in the short and medium term. EXTR:ACT and its members will be supporting initiatives and projects to ensure further development of recycling capacity across Europe.
Polymers and Aluminium (PolyAl) Recycling:
PolyAl (sometimes referred to as PE-AL) is the material left over after the paper (re)pulping process in the paper mills. This material contains a mixture of the plastics and aluminium which have been used as functional barrier materials, caps and closures in the beverage cartons.
For many years the industry has been investigating ways to recycle material which remains after the fibre recovery process at paper mills such as LDPE, HDPE and aluminium. This process is already in motion and capacity is growing every year. In 2021, a new facility which is owned and driven by the BC-converters started the polyAl recycling process, and other sites followed. EXTR:ACT is involved in many other innovative activities across different packaging types to discover potential synergies.