Russia’s largest petrochemicals producer Sibur will incorporate recycled plastics into PET production for food packaging, amid a national push to boost recycling.
“We expect to start using recycled polyethylene terephthalate packaging at POLIEF by mid-2022,” Evgeny Semenko, head of Sibur’s POLIEF plant, said in a recent release.
Sibur will invest in treating and sorting equipment at the plant as a priority item from 2020-2022 and will process up to 34,000 tonnes of recycled plastics annually.
Russia has ramped up efforts to increase domestic recycling as it seeks to improve its waste disposal systems and environmental protection record. Collection bins for recycling have become ubiquitous outside Moscow apartment buildings since late last year, as a government order has been rolled out nationwide. Waste in Russia remains mainly landfilled.
PET is utilised to manufacture packaging for a variety of products, including soft drinks, dairy products, pharmaceuticals and household chemicals. PET packages are safe for people and the environment, and are fully recyclable.
“By using recycled feedstock, the company will help promote the circular economy, while also cutting its greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of end products,” Maxim Remchukov, Head of Sustainable Development at SIBUR said in the company release.
PET flakes will mainly come from the Russian regions. Intermediaries will provide processed bottles that have been washed and prepared by suppliers at their own sites, which will then be checked for quality standards. Bashkortostan, the most populous republic in Russia, currently collects 4,000 tonnes of used PET bottles per year. That figure could potentially reach 20,000 tonnes a year if measures are taken to improve collection rates and the sorting quality, according to Sibur.
The planned recycling volumes lag behind those in nations with deeper recycling traditions, such as Germany and France. On the other hand, Russia has to start somewhere — and its serious intent to develop its recycling progamme marks a significant step towards what may become much larger-scale endeavours in the future.