APK AG in Saxony-Anhalt has developed an innovative recycling technology that will retain plastic in the circular economy. The company is the first to produce pure recycled materials from plastic composites on an industrial scale and provide a fully commercialized product. Now it aims to expand its production capacity.
The company’s investors are highly confident. During a recently completed financing round, APK AG, which is based in Merseburg, secured funding of 130 million euros. As part of the agreement, LyondellBasell and KIRKBI will become minority shareholders in APK. Other investors are also involved. The plan is to construct further Newcycling® plants to increase the company’s production capacity. LyondellBasell is a world-leading chemical company, while KIRKBI A/S is the family-owned holding and investment company of the LEGO® brand. The capital will help the specialist plastic recycling company to continue to grow worldwide on the basis of its innovative Newcycling® process. “This was the biggest financing round in our company’s history and will enable us to build two new large-scale plants each costing hundreds of millions of euros. The plan is for the plants to go online by 2025/2026,” explains Susanne Küppers, a member of the board of APK AG.
The company is undergoing a period of highly dynamic growth. It was founded in 2008 in Merseburg in the Saale district and now employs 220 people. More skilled staff will be needed for the two new plants. “We would very much like to build one of the plants in Saxony-Anhalt. The location in eastern Germany’s chemical triangle between Merseburg, Leuna and Schkopau has many advantages, including the skilled labor force,” adds Dr. Robert Marx, member of the board of APK AG.
APK’s production process is already on an industrial scale
APK forms part of an extremely dynamic market. The demand for recycled plastic has been growing for years. From the very beginning, the company’s vision was to ensure that plastic recycled from waste was available as a raw material for the generations to come and to recycle it on an industrial scale. They have succeeded in doing this with their patented Newcycling® process. This allows different types of plastic waste to be separated in order to produce purer end products. For example, until now it has been difficult to separate polyethylene/polyamide film, a plastic mix that is often used in an industrial context, into individual substances. As a result, this type of film was usually sent for incineration. “Using our process, we can separate the polymers to produce the required plastic – in our case polyethylene for plastic film. We can also remove contamination, with the result being an extremely pure plastic. The second step in the process is to remove the solvent from the material, which gives us a high-purity granulate that can be processed to make packaging and for other high-quality applications,” explains Maik Pusch, Director of Corporate Development at APK AG. This solvent-based physical process is the only one of its kind in the world, according to Pusch. He adds: “Our plant in Merseburg already produces granulate on an industrial scale. That is our most important advantage over our competitors who are still working in the laboratory or on a research scale.”
Plastic recycling supports the Green Deal
APK is confident that it is making an important contribution to a sustainable environmental strategy in the context of the EU’s Green Deal, which aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Up to 2019, the recycling quota for waste from Germany’s domestic recycling bins was only 36 percent. New packaging legislation introduced last year requires a significant increase in this figure. In the future, around two thirds of waste must be recycled to reduce the demand for new plastic made from crude oil. As Susanne Küppers explains: “That is our contribution to the Green Deal: keeping plastic in the cycle, making a significant cut in CO2 emissions, avoiding polluting our environment. Ultimately we can prevent high-quality plastic from being incinerated or ending up in landfill.” APK AG in Merseburg is helping to increase sustainability.
Author: Michael Falgowski