From PET bottle to polyurethane foam: SOPRALOOP innovates and recycles

SOPRALOOP

 

Until recently, complex PET packaging such as non-transparent milk bottles and multilayer crates ended up in incinerators or on the waste heap. SOPREMA felt there was an opportunity to make this more ecologically friendly and as such opened the first recycling unit in the world which offers a solution to this problem. Thanks to SOPRALOOP we can now transform discarded plastic packaging into polyols, one of the main components of polyurethane foam.

The result of an effective eco-sourcing policy

For more than twenty years, SOPREMA Group has been applying an effective eco-sourcing policy, striving to replace petrochemical-produced raw materials with ecological alternatives from vegetable biomass or recycling. We are now going one step further with the processing of complex PET packaging. Up until now, the technique has never been applied industrially to plastic packaging. But thanks to in-depth research and an investment of approximately ‎€ 7 million, we have created market opportunities for recycled plastics.

SOPRALOOP: how we recycle the PET packaging

The unique recycling process of the SOPRALOOP production line starts with the receipt of PET packing being sorted to remove contaminants, cleaned and ground into flakes. These flakes are separated according to density and then passed through chemical recycling in the first reactor followed by additives in the second. The next stage is the production of polyol which is an essential component of polyurethane foam. Finally, the polyol is sent to the two polyurethane plants for the last step in the production of polyurethane foam for buildings.

The production line continues to grow

In the first year of the SOPRALOOP production line, we expect a processing capacity of 3,000 tonnes of complex PET packaging, which in turn will yield 5,500 tonnes of polyols. This capacity will double or even triple over the next five years. In the future, as we gain experience, we plan to produce even more polyols. In this way, we are reducing the impact of plastics on the environment while developing high-quality, recycled raw materials.

Would you like to find out more about SOPRALOOP? Then don’t hesitate to contact us.