A promising innovation is chemical recycling of polyester (PET), called CuRe technology. The goal is to recycle used polyester waste streams in polyester suitable for very demanding applications such as carpets, textiles and food packaging materials. This technology has been launched by the Cumapol, DSM-Niaga and Morssinkhof companies. This partnership has been kicked off with a pilot plant, to prove the technical and financial sustainability of a new technology for polyester recycling.
Existing polyester recycling techniques require a relatively clean waste stream of clear or light blue polyester bottles. For that reason, colored polyesters or mixed polyesters often lack the economic feasibility for recycling, and therefore end up in incineration. The pilot plant enables a continuous polyester recycling process for post-consumer and post-industry polyester waste streams – including packaging materials and textile products – and removes contaminants and colorings from the original plastic materials.
So far, food packaging recycling has been done mechanically. CuRe Polyester Recycling Technology allows the treatment of any type of used polyester, removing the color and turning it back into clear pellets with the same properties as virgin grade polyester. It is our ambition to purify the polyester waste so that it can be used in any new polyester application, including for food contact.
Realizing low energy recycling of various polyester product waste streams offers great advantages; a large stream of polluted plastics can be kept in the cycle thanks to chemical recycling.
The chemical recycling of PET plastics was a research project in which the Emmen-based Cumapol company collaborated with three knowledge institutions. These were NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and University of Applied Scienes Windesheim, united in Green PAC, and the University of Groningen.