Starlinger develops a closed loop model for polypropylene 'big bags'
The 380 million 4-loop big bags (technically called Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container = FIBC) sold each year have a recycling potential of nearly 800,000 tonnes. To create a circular economy for such big bags, Starlinger, a plastic packaging and recycling machinery and process technology engineering company from Austria, has simulated a closed loop for polypropylene - the main component of big bags - in cooperation with renowned big bag manufacturers Louis Blockx and LC Packaging.
Due to their lower weight and space-saving transport characteristics, the carbon footprint of flexible big bags was already below other rigid bulk containers such as drums or octabins. But with Starlinger's "circular packaging", there is now a closed loop for polypropylene, which begins with polypropylene granulate and leads to polypropylene regranulate (rPP) through the process of production, usage, recovery, and recycling, which is used for manufacturing new big bags.
- A closed loop has the advantage that production occurs within a quality assurance system, and the materials used are documented in a so-called “material passport”:
- After use, big bags are returned to the original big bag filler; this guarantees that they are similar in composition and show the lowest possible degree of contamination, as they do not enter the post-consumer stream.
- At the FIBC manufacturer, the used big bags are shredded, washed, and processed into rPP on the Starlinger recycling line recoSTAR dynamic, thereby yielding secondary raw materials for the production of new big bags, which show the same quality as those made from virgin material in terms of tensile strength, weight, and safety factor.