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Spanish company Stora Enso Mill has recently inaugurated a new beverage packaging recycling plant which processes used beverage carton from European countries.

According to the company, it receives used milk and juice cartons from Spain, France, Portugal and the UK. The new recycling process enables full recovery of all the materials used in the beverage cartons, including the fibre, plastic and aluminium. “The innovation is that we are now able to recycle all the constituent parts of beverage cartons,” says Håkan Molden, VP Carton Board at Stora Enso Packaging.

“The fact that we are able to fully recycle the cartons means less waste going to landfill. It is good for the environment and the climate. It also makes great business sense as we are able to recover usable materials and recycle them into energy and new products.”

The plastic-aluminium laminate from recovered beverage cartons is separated by the new processing technology thus enabling both fibre and aluminium to be fully reused and the plastic to be utilised to generate energy in the mill. The recovered fibre is used for the production of white lined chipboard at Stora Enso’s Barcelona Mill.

The process is based on pyrolysis, i.e. heating up the material in the absence of oxygen. This makes the long chains of polyethylene divide into gases and light oils, while the aluminium remains unoxidised and can be recycled and remelted without problems. This is the first time pyrolysis is used to separate plastic and aluminium.

The process was refined in collaboration by Stora Enso’s Barcelona Mill and Alucha Recycling Technologies. The innovation was selected as a winner of the 2010 ‘Best of the Best’ LIFE Environment Projects award, granted by the European Union to recognise projects that have a positive impact on the environment.

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