Bottles are turned back into bottles: This is common practice at BTB PET-Recycling GmbH & Co. KG based in Bad Salzuflen (Nordrhein-Westfalen) since many years. At BTB PETRecycling, 20,000 tons of PET input material from the German bottle return system PETCYCLE are processed every year. The owner-managed company was founded in 2006 and has operated a Starlinger PET recycling line type recoSTAR PET 165 iV+ since 2007, presently with 6 SSP reactors.
At the moment, BTB PET-Recycling has 30-35 employees and produces food-safe PET regranulate for reuse in the production of beverage bottles. The company is in possession of a positive EFSA opinion concerning the food safety of its rPET; an extended EFSAsubmission has been filed. In addition, BTB PET-Recycling is certified according to ISO 9001:2008 as well as ISO 50001:2011. A factor worth highlighting is its first-rate life cycle assessment: The geographical proximity of preformer, bottler and recycler reduces the carbon footprint to a minimum. BTB PET-Recycling has fixed customers for its regranulate; an internet presence is therefore not necessary.
According to Starlinger changing market requirements call for flexibility and constant adaptations on the part of the recycler. Over the course of the last 10 years, there have been massive changes in the design of PET bottles, e.g., the bottles have become lighter and/or their walls have become thinner (causing the bulk density to change significantly), and they may contain additives (acetaldehyde and oxygen blockers). According to one of the managing directors of BTB PET-Recycling, Andrzej Zajontz, the Starlinger recycling line is insensitive to variations in input material. These can be compensated by parameter adjustments alone, thereby ensuring consistent regranulate quality. To keep the machine up to date from a technical point of view, upgrades are provided on a regular basis. The recycler emphasizes the machine’s ease of operation – allowing for swift training of new personnel – as well as Starlinger’s uncomplicated service. Christian Lovranich, Head of Process Engineering of the division recycling technology, has provided support to BTB PET-Recycling from the very beginning and is clearly proud of the line’s high uptime: „The machine achieves an uptime of 95 %. This means that the output has far exceeded the client’s expectations.” Service of the machine has been optimized to minimize downtime; the line has to be stopped only for certain maintenance work such as a knife change.
A definite advantage is the modular design of the Starlinger line at BTB PET-Recycling. By adding an additional vacuum SSP reactor, the capacity can be extended very easily, allowing for continuous growth. Company owner Richard Wüllner reports that the capacity was increased through adding one SSP reactor in 2013 as well as in 2015 to meet the growing demand for food-safe regranulate. In addition, upgrades were made in the areas washing, bottle sorting, and flake sorting. A further increase in capacity is planned for the near future. The regular investment in the recycling line shows that the recoSTAR PET at BTB PET-Recycling is far from being outdated, on the contrary: It is well equipped for the next 10 years.