GreenCycle is a pioneer of sustainable resource management.
GreenCycle processes used recyclables such as paper, cardboard packaging and film into new and – as much as possible – equivalent products. The result is an economically and ecologically viable materials cycle which conserves natural resources.
Based on many years of project work for the Schwarz Group companies, GreenCycle has extensive experience and established technical and logistical knowledge of customised materials cycles.
The positioning of the Schwarz Group – with its strong brands Kaufland and Lidl, numerous production plants and waste disposal and recycling experts from GreenCycle – offers unique opportunities to develop new, innovative circular products. This means that both costs and environmental impact can be reduced.
Circular products at a glance
The actual recycling begins in the paper mill with the pulping of the paper and cardboard bales. The reusable materials obtained in this way flow into the production process. New products made of paper and cardboard are produced and supplied to customers within a short period of time.
Transport containers, packaging, advertising materials – enormous quantities of paper and cardboard are generated in industry and trade on a daily basis. These materials are compressed on site in a screw compactor. Collected in a container, the recyclable materials are ready for pickup.
Waste management contractor
GreenCycle’s waste disposal partners empty the paper and cardboard containers of all customers in the GreenCycle network as required. The material collected here is compacted again. Pressed into compact bales, cardboard and paper are stored protected in the disposal yards until they are transported to the paper mill.
GreenCycle aims to maximise utilisation of all articulated lorries. Every kilo, every millimetre counts. Only fully loaded lorries leave the waste disposal yards. This saves diesel and reduces CO₂ emissions and costs. The environmental burden is also limited as far as possible.
GreenCycle provides business partners from industry and trade with a tried-and-tested collection technology for the enormous quantities of cardboard and paper that are generated on a daily basis. GreenCycle also assists in the selection of the optimum converter for paper recycling.
GreenCycle developed a paper recycling system for the Lidl retail group that produces around one tonne of 100% recycled paper from 1.2 tonnes of old brochures. This not only protects the environment, but also helps to reduce costs.
Anyone who throws a PET water bottle or PET soft drink bottle into one of the deposit machines is supporting the Group’s own unique materials cycle. These bottles are used to produce new Saskia and Freeway deposit bottles.
The empties are transported by lorry from the branches to a central warehouse. There, the PET bottles are pressed into bales measuring approximately 80 x 100 centimetres. Around 7,000 – 8,000 pressed bottles fit into one bale. This means that they can be transported compactly to the recycling plant.
In the recycling plant, the PET bottles are sorted by colour, and the labels and lids are removed. The bottles are then ground and washed in order to be processed into food-grade regranulate. This recycled PET material will later be used for bottle production.
The next stop is plastics processing. It is at this stage that the blanks for the bottles are produced. For this purpose, recycled PET material is mixed with new plastic. More than 50% recycled material is currently used on average.
The blanks are transported from the plastics processing facility to our filling plants. Compared to finished bottles, these can be transported extremely compactly. In the filling plants, the blanks are heated and then inflated into finished bottles. After subsequent cleaning, they are filled and labelled.
The Saskia and Freeway bottles are transported by the shortest route from the filling plants throughout Germany to the central warehouse and picked. This means that an assortment of drinks is put together that the respective branch needs. The bottles are taken from the central warehouse to the stores.
Bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are used predominantly in the beverage industry. Together with the Group’s own MEG (“Mitteldeutsche Erfrischungsgetränke”) production plants and the Lidl retail chain, GreenCycle has developed a unique recycling system – the only one of its kind in the industry: the recyclable bottles of the “Saskia” and “Freeway” brands are collected in the stores after use, pre-sorted and recycled in a specially developed process. Using this system, it has been possible to continuously increase the proportion of recycled PET material in the bottles produced specially for Lidl to more than 50% on average at present – the 1.5-litre water bottle of the “Saskia” Still brand is made of up to 100% recyclate.
What’s special about the recyclable bottle is the integrated material cycle created by the Schwarz Group: since all those involved in the material cycle – recycling plants, plastics processing, filling plants and retailers – belong to the Schwarz Group, the Group has unique knowledge of all of the overarching processes and their optimisation potential.
Films and plastics
Films and plastics
Here, fresh and recycled granulate liquefies under extreme heat to form a mass. New products are created by pressing this molten mass into a mould at high pressure, injecting it through nozzles, or blowing it into a mould using both techniques. These products are supplied to customers within a short period of time.
Secondary packaging, price labelling, plastic nets – enormous quantities of polyethylene-containing materials are generated in industry and trade on a daily basis. Pre-sorted by colour (coloured and clear), GreenCycle’s vertical balers and channel baling presses compress the material on site. The plastic bales created in this way are then ready for pickup.
GreenCycle aims to maximise utilisation of all articulated lorries. Every kilo, every millimetre counts. Only fully loaded lorries drive to the granulator yards. This saves diesel and reduces CO₂ emissions and costs. The environmental burden is also limited as far as possible.
After delivery, the granulators liquefy the sorted plastics into so-called ‘melt’. Shaped through thin nozzles into strands and cooled, rotating knives cut the resulting granulate. This goes to the recyclers packed in sacks or delivered as bulk material.
Waste collection sacks, flower containers, secondary packaging, price labelling, synthetic potato nets, as well as films and plastics are ubiquitous. They are usually made of polyethylene-containing materials (PE materials).
GreenCycle develops suitable materials cycles for plastics recycling, whereby PE materials are separated according to various criteria in order to recycle them by type and colour.
The recyclable materials are then compressed. This ensures optimum utilisation of transport logistics, which in turn reduces costs and CO2 emissions.
The deposit bottle collection sack from Lidl is a typical example of a circular product. The collection sack is made of 100% recycled films from Lidl. The Schwarz Group recycles coloured plastics mainly into residual waste sacks and collection sacks, which likewise do not contain any external material.
The CO₂ produced in the combustion process is used during plant growth in photosynthesis to generate new biomass.
In principle, all food that can still be eaten is delivered to food banks. Expired or no longer edible biowaste is disposed of via an internal recycling system. This biowaste is collected in the branches, compacted centrally and, if possible, given to regional biogas plants.
The supplied biomass is fermented into biogas in the biogas plants.
The biogas obtained is treated and fed into the local natural gas supply network, making it available to a large number of end consumers. Some of the biogas is compressed and used in combustion engines, for example, to power company vehicles. These combustion processes in turn produce CO₂.
The companies of the Schwarz Group, such as Kaufland and Lidl, donate food that is no longer fit for sale but can still be eaten free of charge to food banks. The food that cannot be donated is returned to the logistics centres and from there distributed to biogas plants.
The biomass supplied by the stores is compacted first of all by means of special press and roll-on, roll-off containers, then transported to regional biogas plants.
In the biogas plants, the biomass is fermented into biogas and fed into a local natural gas supply network. GreenCycle planned and implemented this material cycle.