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02.09.2019 Closed-loop system of bulk bag manufacture

Starlinger, Vienna, Austria, has developed a ‘circular packaging’ concept for bulk bags made from polypropylene fabric, whereby the used bags are recycled into new bulk bags. This will be presented at K-2019 in Düsseldorf next month; live demonstrations of the technology will also be the highlight of the Starlinger open house days in Weissenbach, Austria, 14-16 and 21-25 October.

With circular packaging, Starlinger introduces K Show visitors to an elaborate concept for a closed loop for bulk bags that begins with polypropylene granulate and leads back to polypropylene regranulate (rPP) through the various process steps of production, usage, recovery, and recycling. A closed loop has the advantage that production occurs within a quality assurance system, and the materials used are documented in a ‘material passport’. In cooperation with the European bulk bag manufacturers Louis Blockx and LC Packaging, Starlinger has simulated this loop and produced new bulk bags from fabric with high rPP content. Samples will be available at the K Show to demonstrate that Starlinger rPP bulk bags offer the same quality as bags made from virgin material in terms of tensile strength, weight, and safety factor.

Apart from saving costs for raw materials, the recycling of bulk bags lowers the carbon footprint of this type of semi-bulk packaging. “We have developed this concept because we would like to establish a circular economy for polypropylene fabric in which the recycled material is again processed into fabric – no downcycling involved,” emphasised Starlinger sales director Hermann Adrigan. “This can only succeed if the packaging is already designed with an eye on recyclability and all process steps are perfectly matched.” By way of example, the ‘circular packaging’ sewing process is performed without the use of polyester multifilament yarns. Starlinger estimates that worldwide, more than 380 million four-loop bulk bags are sold every year; this equals an annual recycling potential of about 800,000t of material.


A Starlinger rPP bulk bag and (below) the company’s circular packaging emblem

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