The plastics industry around the world has been actively pursuing the goals of a circular economy and key to this is the adoption of more advanced recycling systems. Given that the global recycled plastics market continues to grow – from US$27.9 billion in 2021 to around US$43.5 billion by 2026, up by 9.3% annually, from 2021 to 2026 (ResearchAndMarkets.com), advanced recycling systems can help achieve more efficient process to meet specific requirements.
The webinar “Innovative Technology as Applied in Post-Consumer and Post-Industrial Plastic Recycling” held on 4 August 2022 focused on the important role of advanced melt filter technology to achieve highly efficient and more profitable plastic recycling. This event gathered three experts who shared relevant market trends and technologies that are expected to share Asia's plastic recycling landscape.
Trends in plastic waste management in ASEAN
The opening remarks was delivered by Commissioner Crispian Lao, Vice Chairman & Private Sector Representative for the Recycling Industry Sector, National Solid Waste Management Commission that is under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Mr. Lao is also the Founding President of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability (PARMS) and well-known expert in waste management and plastic recycling.
In his presentation, Mr. Lao provided an overview on the solid waste management situation in Asia and how plastic consumption has been on the rise due to increase in per capital income. As some Southeast Asian countries are among the highest plastic polluters in the world, drastic actions must be undertaken. To achieve this, there is a need to reduce the most harmful and difficult plastic to recycle, increase plastic re-use and recycle, and comply with existing regulations on disposal and discharge. Several regional and local initiatives are now in place and these are made possible through strategic collaboration among stakeholders. Mr. Lao also pointed out that there are now various policies and measures by ASEAN member countries to handle marine plastic debris and reduce its negative impact on the environment. These include Indonesia’s Plan of Action on Marine Plastic Debris covering the period 2017-2025; Malaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030; the Philippines’ National Plan of Action for the Prevention, Reduction and Management of Marine Litter; Thailand’s Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management 2018-2030; and Vietnam’s National Action Plan for Management of Marine Plastic Litter by 2030.
While the targets to achieve a circular economy in plastic are facing a host of obstacles, the plastics industry has been aiming to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable and compostable plastic packaging by 2025. The recycled content targets from consumer packaged goods companies, retailers, and packaging producers amount to a demand of 5.4 million tonnes of recycled plastics by 2025 (with several companies still to set their 2025 targets). As cited by Mr. Lao, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has recorded 50 brands and retailers that are piloting or expanding reuse and refill schemes. As a result, the growth pattern for the utilisation of recycled PET is projected to increase in Southeast Asia.
Mr. Hadiyan Fariz Azhar, representative of Asosiasi Daur Ulang Plastik Indonesia (ADUPI) and CEO of PT. Kita Bumi Global, discussed "Digitalizing Indonesian PCR Collection Effort to Enhance Circular Economy." As an entrepreneur passionate to solve environmental issue, especially in major city waste problems, and raise the circular economy to help more communities around the world, Mr. Azhar gave an interesting account on the plastic waste problem in Indonesia and what measures have been done to encourage systematic post-consumer plastic waste collection efforts. His insights on the challenges and opportunities in waste collection as well as utilisation of more advanced solutions to waste recycling are valuable information for the participants of the webinar.
The right melt filter technology
Automatic melt filtration technology is an area where FIMIC expertise has emerged. Ms. Aria Chen, Regional Sales Manager at FIMIC, presented FIMIC’s innovations in the area of melt filtration and how these can benefit post-consumer and post-industrial plastic recycling. Ms. Chen started her presentation with an overview of FIMIC and its worldwide operations. Based in Italy, FIMIC has installed over 450 units worldwide. The company is the only one with a range of five different models to target contaminated plastics (post-industrial and post-consumer streams). These include the: RAS Filter; ERA Double Screen Changer; GEM with the largest filtering surface; TEN continuous filtration on woven mesh; and RAS+REF scraping mode or backflush mode.
A revolutionary technology, FIMIC’s filter enables the processing of a wide range of post-consumer, post-industrial waste with contamination of paper, small metal pieces, dust, organic, un-melted plastic, etc. Easy to use and install, the filter requires less spare parts to be changed and its simple setting no longer need intensive training for the operator. The machine can be supported remotely as well. The FIMIC filter guarantees better filtration performance by laser screens with fine filtration from 300 micron ~ 80 micron ( ~ 50~ 80 mesh). This results in consistent pellets quality and the filtration quality not affected by pressure from extruder. Ms. Chen also stressed that FIMIC melt filter technology guarantees lower operational cost as spare parts are affordable; there is less machine downtime; the possibility of increasing extruder output to its maximum; and low melt loss.
Several case studies of FIMIC customer and their requirements were discussed by Ms. Chen. One example is how the RAS Melt Filter has been applied by its customer in processing LDPE packaging film contaminated with dust, paper, stickers, labels and unmelted plastics. The challenges were addressed by FIMIC through its RAS Melt Filter, which can manage any contamination levels.