PreZero, a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) in Germany that operates packaging sorting facilities, has developed innovative sorting technologies to virtually eliminate manual sorting and improve automatic sorting capabilities for what has typically been known as “hard to recycle” flexible packaging across European countries where they have operational facilities.

PreZero operates collection, sorting and recycling facilities that has incorporated innovative technology specifically for flexible packaging sorting and recycling.  PreZero is in operation in eleven countries in Europe, with seven sorting plants in Germany.  PreZero is involved in all parts of the end-of-life value chain for packaging, including collection, sorting, and recycling. PreZero’s new Estate of the art Eitting sorting facility in Germany is designed to process up to 120,000 tonnes/year of lightweight packaging using Near Infrared (NIR) optical sorters, as well as a screen sorter to remove plastic pieces that are 20 mm or less. The new Eitting sorting facility includes thirty-eight near infrared separators, one sorting robot and 272 conveyor belt to colour sort flexible plastic films.

Implementing this enhanced sorting capability has allowed Eitting to produce four separate flexible plastic commodity streams: transparent low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film, coloured LDPE film, flexible polypropylene (PP) and mixed flexible polyolefins (MPO). Current end markets mostly include European polypropylene (PP) rigid recyclers, as PP film is compatible with rigid formats and can be incorporated into PP recyclates that can be used to produce rigid plastic packaging.

The primary driver for increasing the capture of smaller pieces of flexible packaging is the higher recycling targets in Germany and the EU Commission’s Plastics Strategy. Strategic goal-setting by policy-makers drives technology development. PROs play a very important role in advancing the collection and sorting of flexible plastic packaging, as they can often influence which types of flexible packaging formats are to be collected, where investments in new technologies should be made or can influence the decision of local authorities with responsibilities for collection.



Reducing Plastic Waste in Canada Webinar #2: Advances in Sorting Collection Technologies, presentations, slide 45-50 

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