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Doubling plastic recycling with ‘Site Zero’

The world's biggest plant for sorting plastic packaging is inaugurated today, on the 15 of November, in Motala, Sweden. Site Zero doubles plastic recycling compared to the previous plant, which was already one of the most efficient in Europe. Up to 95% of all packaging received will be able to be sent for recycling in the near future.

‘The conditions now exist to actually make plastics part of the circular economy,’ said Mattias Philipsson, CEO of Svensk Plaståtervinning. Minister for Climate and Environment Romina Pourmokhtari, and more than 350 guests from Sweden and Europe, attended the opening ceremony.

The key to successful plastic recycling is retaining the value of the material, which requires efficient sorting and recycling of each individual plastic type. This is where Site Zero is pioneering: the plant can sort out as many as 12 types of plastic, which corresponds to almost all types of plastic on the Swedish packaging market, compared to three or four at comparable plants in Europe.

Site Zero has now been tested for a period prior to opening, and the results show record figures for sorting efficiency. As much as 95% of the packaging arriving at the plant can be sorted out for recycling in the next step.

‘This means a doubling of plastic recycling compared to our previous plant, which was already one of the most efficient in Europe. The results from the test period show that plastic can now become part of the circular economy,’ stated Mattias Philipsson, CEO of Svensk Plaståtervinning.

He continued, ‘With Site Zero, we have set a new path for plastic recycling and the rest of Europe. The world needs to follow, to reduce emissions from incineration and the need for primary raw material. It is no longer justifiable to incinerate as much plastic as we do or melt it down into low quality products that cannot be recycled again.’

Site Zero will be the world's biggest sorting plant and can process 200,000 tonnes of plastic packaging. This is approximately equivalent to the total volume placed on the Swedish market. About half of this plastic packaging is collected by the Swedes, and until more plastic reaches the recycling system, Svensk Plaståtervinning has offered capacity to other countries. From 2024, Site Zero will receive most of Finland's household plastics.

Site Zero

  • Size: 60,000 m2 (previous plant 15,000 square metres).

  • Sorting capacity: 12 types of plastic (comparable plants three to four types): rigid PP, rigid HDPE, flexible LDPE, flexible PP, transparent PET trays, transparent PET bottles, coloured PET bottles, EPS, PS, PVC, two grades of mixed polyolefin laminates, and metal and non plastic rejects.

  • Sorting efficiency: Up to 95% of the received plastics can be sorted out and recycled in the next step.

  • Sorting sensors: 60 NIR sensors (comparable plants have an average of five NIR sensors, previous plant 19 sensors).

  • Advanced control system: fully automated process, real time optimisation, artificial intelligence. The different parts of the plant influence and talk to each other, optimising the sorting process.

  • Reception capacity: 200,000 tonnes per year of mixed plastic packaging from households (previous plant 100,000 tonnes per year).

  • Sorting speed: 1000 packages per second, 42 tonnes per hour.


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