REKS enables circular production

Project REKS has been under construction for quite some time by the partners KRAS, KIVO and KIVO Kosovo. The goal of this project is to use and reuse plastic packaging materials even better. The REKS factory is being built in Kosovo. Robert Kwakman – General Manager of KIVO Group – and Ben Kras – director of KRAS Recycling – talk about REKS.

To be able to produce circular, the process starts at KRAS Recycling. They collect all the plastic waste from large companies and distribution centers. They then transport this waste to REKS in Kosovo. From May 2019, the waste will be sorted at REKS, washed and regenerated into recycled material. Previously this was done in large volumes in China. “Today a small part still goes to destinations in Asia. The larger part now goes to the incinerators in Europe. By recycling under our own management in Kosovo, we can create closed loops, guaranteeing high quality. In addition, it contributes to employment and development of Kosovo and it is less harmful to the environment” says Kras.

KIVO Kosovo is going to use part of the recyclate in the production of various applications, such as waste bags and collection bags. Kwakman gives an example: “KIVO is currently supplying hundreds of kilos of collection bags to a large supermarket chain, which we will soon deliver to REKS in Kosovo. The bags are used to make recycled bags and we sell these bags to the same supermarket chain. As a result, the supermarket chain will soon have new collection bags made from its own plastic waste. That is sustainable and also much cheaper.”

Closed loop solutions

Due to the current development within the plastic industry there is an increasing need for applications that are processed circularly. In the future, REKS also hopes to come up with more closed loop solutions. Consider, for example, shrink films for trays and six-packs that contain recycled material. However, important players in the chain – such as marketeers and bottling firms – will also have to move to make the packaging more sustainable together.

In recent years, a great deal of money has been invested in Europe in sorting and recycling factories. The method of REKS is exactly what the European Union and the Dutch government want to see in the coming years: fewer primary raw materials and more circular solutions.

The government wants the Netherlands to reuse more raw materials and to burn less waste. That is why rates will soon rise for products that are not recyclable. The government is actively working on recycling plans and is more or less forcing companies to achieve a certain recycling target. “Since the Paris climate agreement, all governments have been looking at how they can operate more sustainable,” says Kras. “All kinds of objectives are attached to that. Coca-Cola, for example, has said that by 2025 all their packaging must be recyclable and preferably made from recycled material. REKS can offer solutions for this.”

“We want to start this year with ten million kilos of waste, but the goal is to double production capacity within two years. We have already calculated this” Kwakman says.

High quality recycled plastic

“Currently there is no other company in Europe that can deliver this kind of high quality recycled plastic products at such a low price and in huge volumes,” Kwakman assures. “We have responded to this by jointly purchasing 82,000 square meters of land in Kosovo, some 7 km from the KIVO factory in Kosovo.”

These developments are important for the future for both KRAS and KIVO. As a plastic producer, KIVO, for example, is currently investigating which products are superfluous, can become thinner and can be made from recycled material. KIVO is slowly cutting away the non-sustainable products. “In ten years’ time, I think KIVO will only realize circular solutions, together with partners. Sustainability is the greatest opportunity for all of us,” Kwakman says.

Joining powers within the chain

It is up to us (the industry) to ensure even more developments and practical solutions against the disadvantages of plastic. Even to replace plastic where better alternatives are applicable. Kwakman: “We are always working on innovation and ultimately want to ensure a future-proof product that we can and should be proud of. REKS is part of that, but for us this goes even further than the direct sphere of influence. By working together within the chain from raw material to end use and reuse, but also with (local) governments and institutes, we can make research, information, control and smart infrastructures possible.”