Recycling plastics – Resource efficiency with an optimized sorting method

In Germany alone, two and a half million tons of plastic packaging land in the yellow trash can.*  Since the various plastics are very difficult to separate from one another, most of the material is utilized for energy.

The new film from VDI Resource Efficiency Center, Recycling plastics – Resource efficiency with an optimized sorting method depicts an improved sorting and processing method for valuable plastics, bringing the plastics life cycle full circle.

MEILO, a company in Gernsheim located in southern Hesse, sorts plastic trash from the yellow barrels in 30 repetitive sorting processes until the maximal purity of variety has been attained. Plastics are first separated according to size and then subjected to an air separator. In the following step, a near infrared scanner scans the plastics on the conveyor belt as they pass, communicating to a compressed air jet at the end of the conveyor belt which plastics are recyclable. Finally, the compressed air jet blows these material aside. Thus, varying plastics are sorted by an up to 98% purity of variety. In addition to the three major valuable plastics, HPDE, PP and PET, four other well-recyclable plastic varieties are gleaned from the river of trash.

At Systec Plastics GmbH in Eisfeld, Thuringia, the plastics sorted by MEILO GmbH are further processed to produce a premium commodity for the plastics industry. Here, plastics are shredded and cleansed. Repeated circuits beneath a near LED scanner sort the plastic flakes according to color before they are melted and once more filtered. The 99% pure granules are then filled into containers and transported.

Werner & Mertz GmbH, manufacturing laundry detergents and cleaning supplies, uses Systec Plastics GmbH granules to produce their packaging bottles. The granules are easily processed in Werner & Mertz GmbH’s standard production plants in Mainz. Their HDPE bottles and PP twist-off lids are made of 100% recycled plastics from the yellow trash can. Their PET bottles are composed of 20% recycled PET from yellow trash cans and 80% recycled
plastic from deposit bottles.

The plastic life cycle comes full circle, the raw materials are recovered.

Further information on MEILO Gesellschaft zur Rückgewinnung sortierter Werkstoffe (Corporation for the recovery of sorted raw materials) mbH & Co.

Further information on Systec Plastics GmbH:

Further information on Werner & Mertz GmbH:

* For a better understanding: German households pre-sort their garbage into four separate trash cans; yellow for plastics, brown for compost; blue for paper and black for non-recyclables.

Comprehensive resource efficiency information:

Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Perfect material cycle for aluminium

Perfect recycling management means the complete recycling of a product at the end of its use phase, with the creation of a new product from the individual components. In order to turn this vision into reality, it is necessary to separate products as finely as possible into their single components. Then the resulting materials can be reused by type.

As far as the recycling of aluminium window frames is concerned, the Hydro Aluminium Recycling Deutschland GmbH has taken another step closer to the perfect materials cycle, as the VDI Center for Resource Efficiency shows in its new film: Following a precise analysis of the shredded aluminium parts, a new shredding plant separates the individual alloys so accurately that the recycled aluminium can be returned to the materials cycle. Since aluminium is used in a multitude of different alloys, proper sorting into clear fractions is essential for comprehensive recycling. Therefore, the shredding plant uses special x-ray equipment and different screening methods.

The metal separation by fractions enables the recycling of 30,000 tons of high-quality aluminium per year and a reduction of CO2 emissions by more than 200,000 tons. This key technology was funded within the framework of the Environmental Innovation Programme of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of the Federal Republic of Germany.

For more information on the German Environment Agency and the Environmental Innovation Programme, please visit:

For more information on the recycling of aluminium by Hydro Aluminium Deutschland, please visit:

All about resource efficiency:

A network of heat

In an industrial park within Stade a group of industrial plants and a thermal power station are joining their forces in a resources-efficient network. The participating enterprises produce important components for the age of renewable energies such as units for wind-power plants and of bio fuels. The constant consumption of steam and electricity also provides economic operation conditions for the power station. Even the single consideration of the energy balance for the production of bio ethanol reveals benefits: In comparison to other processes commonly used for the production of bio ethanol in the EU, the energy balance is increased by 50 percent.

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Perfect material flow in the Black Forest

The J. Schmalz GmbH, domiciled in the Swabian town of Glatten, manufactures products which suck in, lift or hold work pieces. Single piece production and a logistic system which does not only intelligently control material flows in in-house production, but also those of suppliers, reduce the required stocks of production by almost fifty percent. Moreover, Schmalz is a positive energy company: by using sun, wind and water for power generation, the family-run business produces approximately one quarter more electric energy than it consumes.

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Fast, precise, efficient with data monitoring

With precise temporal monitoring of all production processes and their continuous analysis, German companies could save lots of material and energy and reduce their costs significantly. The advantage is obvious: if a lathe immediately reports the faulty production of components, scrap and thus the use of materials will be reduced. If due to optimized production planning all machines produce without downtimes, start-up losses and energy will be saved. MSR Technologies from the Swabian town of Laupheim realized these measures in an exemplary way.

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Recycling – Out of the scrap!

In about 50 shredder plants in Germany, they find a turbulent end: washing machines, old cars and bicycles are shredded with deafening noise using several thousand hp. What remains is: an uncontrolled material flow of metals and plastics. So far, mainly iron, the actual scrap, and part of the non-ferrous metals could be sorted out and recycled. However, the sorting technologies used to date could not detect stainless steel. Thanks to new technology, which detects individual parts by means of electromagnetic waves and exhausts them via air flow, it is now possible to clearly separate even stainless steel parts. If this technology was used as a standard in German shredding facilities, not less than three ocean liners loaded with raw material could be saved each year.

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