Canadian Plastics

World’s largest plastic recycling plant opens

Canadian Plastics   

Recycling Sustainability

The new Site Zero, in Sweden, can sort up to 12 types of plastic at a 95 per cent success rate.

An artist’s rendering of Site Zero. Image Credit: Svensk Plaståtervinning

Sweden’s Site Zero, said to be the world’s biggest plant for sorting plastic packaging, officially opened on Nov. 15.

Svensk Plaståtervinning (Swedish Plastic Recycling) invested one billion Swedish Krona (about US$95 million) in the facility, which is located in the southern Swedish town of Motala. The new facility can sort up to 200,000 metric tons of plastic packaging a year. A unique feature of Site Zero is that it can separate up to 12 different types of plastic – which represents almost all types of plastic on the Swedish packaging market – compared to three or four at comparable plants in Europe. In total, up to 95 per cent of all packaging received at the 60,000-square-meter plant can be recycled.

Site Zero houses 60 near-infrared (NIR) sensors, compared to an average of 5 NIR sensors at comparable recycling plants. Once sorted, plastic at Site Zero can be recycled in the conventional, mechanical way or via a chemical recycling method, which typically uses heat or chemical solvents to break down plastics into liquid and gas to produce an oil-like mixture or basic chemicals.

An old plant at the same location could only sort five types of plastic, which meant that only 47 per cent of the material was sent on for recycling and the rest was incinerated, said Mattias Philipsson, CEO of Sweden Plastic Recycling. “With Site Zero, we have set a new path for plastic recycling and the rest of Europe,” he said. “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.”


Starting next year, Site Zero will also receive most of nearby Finland’s household plastics.


Stories continue below