Stora Enso and Tetra Pak combine forces on carton recycling in Belgium amid lacking infrastructure
14 Jul 2022 --- Stora Enso and Tetra Pak are examining a shared beverage carton recycling solution to meet the growing demand in the Benelux for circular paper-based packaging. The joint feasibility study includes a plan for a comprehensive beverage carton recycling facility at Stora Enso’s Langerbrugge site in Belgium.
PackagingInsights speaks with Frank Vandewal, sustainability director at Tetra Pak, and Mandi Alaterä, senior vice president, communications & marketing, division packaging materials at Stora Enso, about the planned beverage carton recycling project.
When asked where the companies will source the carton for recycling from, Vandewal says: “The target material for recycling will be the Benelux area. Furthermore, discussions with relevant packaging recovery organizations will start. The focus will be on local recycling, offering full circular solutions: packaging to packaging for fibers via cooperation with Stora Enso and local polyal solutions.”
“We plan to get the used beverage carton materials from the Benelux countries within a reasonable transport distance,” adds Alaterä.
The fibers would be processed at the Langerbrugge site, while the polymer and aluminum barrier materials would be recycled by a partner.
Filling the carton recycling gap
Approximately 75,000 metric tons of beverage cartons are put on the Benelux market annually, a growing volume of which more than 70% are already collected for recycling. Currently, there is no existing beverage carton recycling infrastructure in Benelux, highlights Stora Enso.
The partnership between Stora Enso and Tetra Pak would create a complete recycling system for beverage cartons in Benelux and surrounding regions.
Stora Enso would process collected beverage cartons and recover the fibers within the solution. The recycled fibers would serve as source material for producing recycled containerboard within the Langerbrugge site, delivering a fully circular solution.
“We would collect packaging used specifically in liquid packaging cartons with polymer and aluminum barrier coating,” explains Alaterä.
“The used beverage containers (UBCs) will be recycled in this specific recycling line. The UBCs will be separated into paper fibers and PolyAl,” adds Vandwal.
“Only the paper fibers will be processed directly at the Stora Enso mill. The PolyAl will be processed by a separate recycler outside the Stora Enso mill. This partner has not been defined yet.”
Converting the Langerbrugge site
The recycling project is linked to Stora Enso’s recently announced feasibility study to potentially convert one of the Langerbrugge site’s paper lines into a high-volume recycled containerboard line. This feasibility study is expected to conclude in the first half of 2023.
Upon a decision to invest, the recycled containerboard line is expected to be in production during 2025. The joint study with Tetra Pak will follow the same timeline.
The proposed recycling line in Langerbrugge will initially process an estimated 50,000 metric tons of recycled cartons per year, with the potential to increase.
“With this joint initiative, we underline our aim of local recycling progress and improving infrastructure in Benelux, a region with high volumes of collected beverage cartons,” adds Chakib Kara, managing director for France and the Benelux at Tetra Pak.
“Stora Enso has the know-how and experience we need in fiber recycling. Together with them, we have the potential to put in place a circular solution that helps us secure a world where a growing number of carton packages is collected, recycled and we can minimize litter.”
The leading pulp and paper manufacturer highlights that beverage cartons contain high-quality fresh fibers that are an “excellent source material” for producing recycled paper containerboard.
Stora Enso and Tetra Pak previously explored the possibility of constructing a new recycling line that could significantly increase the recycling rates of UBCs in Central and Eastern Europe.
By Natalie Schwertheim
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