The full-service recycler, processor and manufacturer has partnered with TOMRA Recycling Sorting to install and optimize a plastic flake sorting production line designed specifically to identify and separate polyolefin caps from carbonated and non-carbonated beverage bottles. Greenpath’s vision is to create the same type of effective recycling system for bottle closures that exists for bottle recycling. “We are at the genesis of creating a sorting system for caps similar to what is more common today for the bottle,” adds Eric Olsson, area segment manager, plastics for TOMRA Recycling Sorting.
Operating for more than 25 years with locations in California, Nevada and Texas, the vertically integrated Greenpath accepts a wide range of materials, and the flow of inbound materials can be somewhat inconsistent. However, this is where Castro sees the company’s advantage in offering value-added services. Greenpath creates value being a one-stop solution for suppliers and customers alike by taking mixed trailer loads and variable supply streams and producing consistent, quality products.
Materials received include paper, metals, and plastics. Considering only the polyolefin materials – low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) – Greenpath accepts bottles, film, rigid plastics, and, of course, bottle caps. “Polypropylene and polyethylene (PE) are together the most abundant plastic family on earth, but the market is limited for valuable applications for mixed polyolefins,” comments Olsson.
Unfortunately, PE and PP have very close density characteristics and are challenging to separate into their different polymer types. That is why mixed polyolefins are primarily downcycled into more forgiving applications that allow for more contamination or a wider range of material specifications. “Alternatively, other companies use a ‘solution by dilution’ approach to include mixed polyolefins, using primarily virgin material and only a small fraction of recycled plastic,” informs Castro.