The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide €30.8 million of support for Repetco Innovations S.L., a Spanish company established in Albacete in 2017 that has developed an innovative patented process for recycling PTTs (pots, trays and tubes) made from multi-layer PET/PE (polyethylene terephthalate (PET) / polyethylene (PE)) food packaging into recycled PET (rPET) and recycled PE (rPE).

The construction of the plant involves a total investment of €47 million and the creation of 48 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs. The project consists of the construction and operation of a commercial-scale multi-layer post-consumer plastics delamination and recycling plant with a maximum input capacity of 150 000 tonnes of mixed plastics per year and final production of around 45 000 tonnes of rPET pellets per year. Located on the Romica industrial estate in Albacete (Castilla-La Mancha), the plant will be operational by the end of 2022 and will have a new recycling process to transform multi-layer post-consumer PET/PE into recycled plastic (rPET and rPE).

The resulting recycled plastic can be reincorporated into the production of new PET container and tray packaging sheets for thermoforming PTTs used in the food industry and/or bottles (for water, beverages and detergents) and/or fibres for the textile and automotive industry.

The construction of the plant, which will be funded by equity capital, shareholder loans, grants and EIB financing, is supported by the circular economy aspect of the Innovfin Energy Demonstration Projects (EDP) programme, financed by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 framework programme. This mechanism provides financing to companies and projects to help them overcome difficulties in marketing their innovations. 

Plastic recycling is a high-priority area for the European Commission due to its resource-intensive nature, high potential for circularity and current low recycling rates. This operation offers a new approach to recycling post-consumer multi-layered food-grade plastic, which until now has mainly been landfilled or incinerated due to the difficulty of delaminating the different layers of plastic. In addition, the project contributes to meeting EU recycling targets while also supporting the transition to a circular economy through its contribution to increased recycling.

Waste management has become a major concern in industrialised countries,” said EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix. “Recycling efficiently means cleaning up the planet while at the same time fighting climate change. This is why we’re proud to be joining forces with Repetco Innovations to build a commercial-scale, state-of-the-art plastics delamination and recycling plant without the use of toxic components that are harmful to the environment. We are therefore contributing to the achievement of EU recycling targets and supporting the transition to a circular economy.”

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “This project brings us step closer to a circular economy. It will allow us to recycle 150 000 tonnes per year of plastics that are currently being landfilled or incinerated due to the lack of technological solutions. Technology supported by Horizon 2020 and InnovFin will thus have a concrete impact in our environment. Our desire is for such facilities to be built in other countries and regions in the future to more widely disseminate this good practice.”

Rafael Sánchez-Castillo Lodares, Founder and CEO of Repetco Innovations, stated: “The EIB’s financial support is a strong endorsement of a highly innovative project in the recycling of multi-layer food-grade plastics. We believe that the construction of the factory in Albacete strengthens a region that is making a clear commitment to innovation for the benefit of the productive economy.”