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Deink Brasil launches new technology for recycling plastic packaging

25 de May de 2023

Deink Brasil, a Valgroup investee company, launches a new process called DEINK 4D (delamination, demetallization, de-inking and disruption) that opens a new era in plastic film by recycling the components present in food and beverage packaging and labels, generating a new natural plastic resin with countless applications.  

 The process developed by Deink Brasil opens a new era in the recycling of multilayer plastic films by solving the economic and operational restrictions that existed for the recovery and reuse of post-consumption waste, until then treated as non-recyclable and sent to landfills and energy recycling, causing damage to the environment. 

 Developed exclusively by Deink Brasil, the delamination and demetallizing technology allows the reuse of packaging and the use of the resin generated as raw material for several industries, as well as white line, household appliances, injection molding in general, and flexible packaging such as films and labels.   

 The multilayer plastic film has different plastic resins in its composition, as well as varnish, paint, adhesive, and metal. In the standard recycling process currently available, it generates a material of very limited applications and generally in black color, such as lids, shelves, buckets, and vases. These are applications that do not reach 5% of the residues and present low quality due to the presence of paint and metal. 

 With delamination it is possible to separate the layers of plastics and remove the layers of metal, paint, and varnish from packages, such as those of snacks and cookies. At the end of the process, a natural resin is generated with characteristics and performance that is similar to virgin resin. The new technological process revolutionizes the limits of recycling plastic waste from multiple layers, increasing its recyclability. Up until now, this type of waste was a major challenge for plastics.  

 “It is a chemical process within a mechanical recycling line, a hybrid recycling with potential for global use,” explains Marcelo Mason, Head of Sustainability and ESG at Deink Brazil. According to him, Deink’s achievement can be defined as developing a closed and sustainable cycle, using solvent-free chemical solutions. 

 “We had already achieved innovative de-inking technology that removes all inks from printed plastic waste, and we wanted to go further to find other new solutions. To be able to master the delamination process now is a true milestone in the plastic recycling sector”, points out Marcelo Mason. 


Disruptive technology  

 Widely used in the production of packaging and labels for food and beverages, multilayer laminated plastic film (known in plastics recycling symbology as number 7) was representing a challenge for the recycling industry due to the limitation of existing technologies for the material’s reuse. For this reason, its recyclability index, or in other words, economic or operational feasibility of recycling, has always been close to zero. 

 The difficulty and high cost in isolating the elements of this material have always meant that its post-production and post-consumption residues were almost never reused, representing a serious environmental problem. To dimension this issue and the importance of the newly created technology, every year the national market moves about 170 thousand tons of BOPP (bioriented polypropylene), the plastic film for snacks and cookies that also includes aluminum, printing ink, varnish, and adhesive. 

 “Exactly because it is a new technology, we believe a learning curve will be part of this process. The first production line of the Deink 4D technology that starts operating in July will specifically treat BOPP (bioriented polypropylene) films, which are extremely relevant for the brands because they are present in most snack packs, cookies, and chocolate bars in general”, explains Marcelo Mason. 

 The potential of its application can be glimpsed when one considers that Brazil is the 4th largest producer of plastic waste in the world. Besides that, more than 2.4 million tons of plastic are disposed of irregularly, without treatment and, in many cases, in open air dumps. Approximately 7.7 million tons of waste is sent to landfills every year. 

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