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Case study

Alliance builds recycling value chain for plastic bottles

Working with Chinese beverage provider Nongfu Spring and the recycler Ausell, we’re building a recycling value chain to meet the growing demand for high-quality, traceable, recycled plastic granules as a raw material, while closing the material loop for polycarbonate into new applications.
Task

Close the material loop for end-of-life water cooler barrels

The automotive and electronics industries are hungry for recycled raw materials that are traceable and comply with Blauer Engel and EPEAT eco label quality standards. We are constantly seeking new business partners to help organize the new circular economy, especially relating to plastic waste. Polycarbonate water barrels are in water coolers in offices and public spaces everywhere. At the end of their useful lives, they are too valuable to discard, and demand a viable demand a vilable end-of-life mangement solution
Challenge

Organize a win-win circular economy value chain

Previous recycling efforts have hit multiple pain points, starting with the lack of a steady supply and collection system. Difficulties in sorting and the lack of traceability have meant that the quality of recycled plastics can fluctuate. In China, Nongfu Spring has a potential regular supply of one million 5-gallon (19-liter) water barrels per year. These polycarbonate bottles are high in quality and traceable, forming the core of a recycling value chain that is both effective and economical compared to the current recycling model .

“Materials recycling is an important part of the circular economy and it should not be ignored. The cooperation between Nongfu Spring, Covestro and Ausell enables high-end applications of recycled plastics, and it is a good example of the closed-loop recycling system in China.”

Zhao Kai

Vice President and Secretary-General China Association of Circular Economy,China Association of Circular Economy

Solution

Supply, traceability and quality in one solid business model

Under a newly signed three-way agreement, Nongfu Spring provides a continuous supply of robust polycarbonate water barrels, pre-sorted for recycling. Ausell then shreds these containers into flakes, washes them and processes them into granules. We will take the recycled granulate and combine it with new material to create high-quality partly recycled plastic . A reliable supply, clear traceability, high quality levels and expertise in reprocessing all come together in one solid business model.

“As the inventor of polycarbonate, Covestro has been focusing on developing a variety of recycling solutions for post-consumer plastics. Polycarbonate is extremely valuable, so we are working with partners in the value chain to enable upcycling of polycarbonate and thus foster a circular economy.”

Holly Lei

President,Covestro China

Three-way partnership makes the business case for recycling

  • Efficient Partner expertise significantly increases Nongfu’s recycling efficiency.
  • Traceable Raw materials have a single source and are clearly traceable.
  • Continuous Alliance with Nongfu secures a stable supply of durable raw material.
  • Circular economy Polycarbonate barrels find new life in high-quality recycled plastic.

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