Each year, Dutch households throw away hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic, cartons and metal packaging. Attero returns those to the cycle. Consider soft-drinks bottles, butter containers, shampoo bottles, meat and vegetable trays, carrier bags, milk and juice cartons and other packaging materials. As of 1 January 2010, it is compulsory for local authorities to separate this packaging waste, either by means of source separation or by post-separation or by post-separation in addition to source separation.
Many local authorities have opted to collect this packaging material (PMD) separately at source. Attero sorts this source-separated PMD material in its Plastic Sorting Plant in Wijster. The results are various mono-flows, such as plastics, drinks cartons and metals. Despite separation at source, there is still plenty of packaging material in the residual waste. As the first and largest post-separator in the Netherlands, Attero recovers a significant part of these plastics, drinks cartons and metals from the residual waste. This is in addition to separation at source, to make sure nothing is wasted.
Decades of experience and market leader
Attero built its first separation plant for household waste in 1980. This ‘urban ore’ was taken apart into part-flows, such as plastics, metals, paper and organic matter. The background to this innovative step was the 'The Limits to Growth’ report, which was published by the Club of Rome in 1972. This Club was a private foundation set up by European scientists who expressed their concerns about the depletion of natural resources. With this first plant, Attero gained an enormous amount of experience in mechanically separating waste. In 1987, Attero built its first separating plant in the city of Groningen. In 1995 it built another one in Wijster. The Wijster plant was built with three separating lines that can process up to one million tonnes of waste. Attero is still committed to this approach to processing residual waste. This practice has earned its spurs, and other processors in the Netherlands are also deciding to build separating plants for residual waste.
Products of recycled plastics
What happens with all that collected packaging waste? Consumers appear to pay very little attention to what happens next. Robert Corijn, Marketing Manager of Attero, comments: "On average consumers spend six seconds in front of the soft-drinks shelf in the supermarket to make a choice. It is unlikely that they take the trouble to look at the percentage of recycled plastics used in the bottle. If they did, they would learn that Coca Cola takes the lead."
We are surrounded by products that incorporate recycled plastics. The cable ducts along the high-speed railway (HSL) were produced by the German company Multiport from recycled plastics supplied by Attero amongst others. The plant pots made by Aufderhaar from Twente also contain Attero plastics. Many green roofs have a plastic system to keep the plants in place, such as the ECOSEDUMPack. Robert continues "Via players, such as Purus, Attero supplies the raw materials for these green roofs. To reinforce bitumen rolls, Attero’s PET is converted into strong fibres. A French client of Attero also uses this PET as a filler for ski clothing. It has fabulous insulating properties."
Attero also supplies plastic to the Dutch company Rymoplast. They produce food crates for supermarkets. Via Vita Plastics, Attero supplies plastic for biotrays for the worktop and street furniture for local authorities. "It is good when consumers start to pay attention to whether recycled plastics are used in the product", argues Robert Corijn. "It means you contribute as somebody who separates waste sustainably and as somebody who buys sustainably. It is the best way for consumers to encourage the circular economy! You would also be building a more sustainable environment together with Attero.