Last year we launched the new Plastics unit. This is a further step in expanding our product portfolio and driving forward our internationalization. A project that requires a great deal of commitment and energy.

When establishing the new unit, it is therefore an advantage to be able to fall back on existing business relationships. We have already worked with many of our suppliers for plastics in other areas. Some of them are loading points that also deliver waste and waste wood to us. This is certainly where our previous good experience with the Brüning Group comes into play and that we are a reliable business partner. In addition, the new colleagues and people in charge of the plastics unit can draw on other valuable contacts, as they have known the industry for some time and have already worked there.

The plastics we trade in include HDPE (high density polyethylene), LDPE (low density polyethylene) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate). We encounter HDPE every day in the form of household appliances, garden furniture and toys, but drums and oil tanks are also made of this versatile plastic. LDPE is mainly used for packaging materials, and the yellow bag*, for example, is also made of LDPE film. The recyclability is very high, so the film can be excellently processed to obtain regranulates. PET is probably the best known plastic. Immediately, images of vast quantities of PET bottles appear in one’s mind’s eye. But here, too, there are various recycling possibilities.

In terms of quality standards, a distinction must be made between unmixed plastics and sorting quality. Unmixed plastics can be processed directly. Sorting quality is defined by the mixture of several different types of plastic in one load or if other foreign matter content such as paper etc. is included. In this case, direct processing is not possible. It must first be sorted according to plastic types, paper and, if necessary, waste (ejection). Then the quality is assessed according to colour as well as the degree of contamination (soiled or not soiled). In turn, white or transparent regranulates can be produced from white or transparent plastics, but only black regranulates can be produced from all other colours.

Thanks to our network, we can find a sales channel for almost any plastic product. Most of the material is marketed within Europe, which is also required by the environmental authorities. Our customers are mostly processors. They prepare the plastics as regranulates, which are then compounded. These are used to manufacture end products such as shampoo bottles, rubbish bags, etc. We export pure plastics to Turkey, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. All customers have import licences and can identify themselves as R3 plants. For example, for sorted goods with a foreign matter content of more than 2%, we require a notification for export. The material is usually loaded in tarpaulin trucks or with walking-floor trucks in case of bulk goods. For export, we load in 40 ft high-cube overseas containers.

We are excited to see how the new unit develops and what challenges we face in this market. One thing is very clear, however: “Considering the masses of plastic that are produced and thrown away, responsible handling, which should always end/begin in recycling, is particularly important,” emphasises Ping Wong-Frese, responsible for the plastics unit and international business development in Asia.

* A thin, yellowish transparent plastic bag, in which any waste made of plastic, metal or composite materials can be handed in and which is part of the Dual System in the German waste management industry.