Siegwerk, a leading provider of printing inks for packaging applications and labels, and APK AG, a specialist in the production of high quality plastic granulate from plastic waste, want to meet the challenges of plastic recycling together and further optimize the recyclability of plastic packaging working in a circular economy.

Almost 80 million tons of plastic waste accumulate worldwide, and currently only about 10% of the resources used in the production of plastics are recovered through recycling. The remaining 90% is incinerated, dumped or enters the environment uncontrolled.

Polyolefins, a collective term for the kinds of plastic that include polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), are the most commonly used raw materials in the packaging sector and, due to their versatility, are used for a number of different applications, including: cling wrap, carrier bags, bottles, food packaging, etc.

Printing inks play a key role in the manufacture of plastic packaging. They are not only crucial for the appearance and functionality of the packaging, but also for its recyclability. “Printing inks in particular, but also pigments, and the organic residues from post-consumer waste, represent a challenge when it comes to manufacturing a reusable recyclate that is as versatile as possible”, said Klaus Wohnig, Spokesman of the Board of APK AG.

With Newcycling®, APK has developed a solvent process that dissolves and cleans the polymer, meaning that polymers can be separated selectively in mixed plastic waste. The result is sorted granulate that is like new.

With this collaboration, both companies see the possibility to jointly meet the challenges in plastic recycling, to make plastic packaging more circular and consequently to perfect it for a sustainable future.

Siegwerk is already pursuing different approaches for removing printing ink (de-inking) in various recycling processes in order to improve recycling quality. “To do so, we must understand the possibilities of recycling and be ready to take new approaches to increase recyclability. This makes the collaboration with APK extremely valuable to us,” said Dr. Jörg-Peter Langhammer, Head of Global PSR + Sustainability at Siegwerk.