Ecoplast facility ©Ecoplast

Ecoplast operates a plastics processing plant in Wildon, Austria. Credit: Ecoplast

Virgin resin giant Borealis will purchase a European plastics reclaimer, the latest move by the prime plastics maker to extend its recycling presence.

Vienna-headquartered Borealis announced this week it will buy Ecoplast Kunstoffrecycling, an Austrian plastics recycling company. Ecoplast processes 35,000 metric tons of plastic per year, both from household and industrial sources. The operation produces LDPE and HDPE pellets.

“It is a logical next step for us to expand our mechanical recycling capabilities, which are key to our sustainability and circular economy efforts,” Alfred Stern, Borealis CEO, stated in a release.

Borealis, which is the second-largest virgin polyolefin producer in Europe, previously acquired German plastics recycling company Mtm Plastics, an operation focused on processing rigid PE and PP from residential and commercial sources. That company has a capacity of 75,000 metric tons per year, according to its website, and it produces pellets for injection molding.

The new acquisition is an effort to move beyond rigid plastics recycling, according to the release.

“Ecoplast’s core competence is recycling flexibles from highly contaminated household and commercial waste into a product that is suitable for thin film production,” Stern said. Most of the Ecoplast output will be sold into the film manufacturing industry.

Borealis elaborated on its interest in the recycling sector in the company’s 2017 annual report. Mark Garrett, the company’s former CEO, said that the company plans to support circular economy principles as a long-term project, because company leaders anticipate recycling and sustainability will become more important in the coming decades.

The 2017 report covers a variety of recycling-related initiatives the company is working on. Among those are its participation in Ellen MacArthur Foundation projects, including one focused on the use of tracers to aid in optical sorting.

The Austrian acquisition comes shortly after another major virgin resin company entered the plastics recycling sector. LyondellBasell, one of biggest plastic and chemical companies on the planet, recently partnered with European waste management giant Suez to acquire Quality Circular Polymers, a HDPE and PP reclaimer in The Netherlands.

In explaining the move, LyondellBasell cited growing demand among the company’s customer for recycled and reused products.

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