The National Test centre Circular Plastics (NTCP) Trusts in Lindner Washtech’s Modular Washing System

The National Test centre Circular Plastics (NTCP) Trusts in Lindner Washtech’s Modular Washing System

Europe’s first independent testing and research centre with  facilities on industrial scale, the NTCP (National Test centre Circular Plastics), in the Netherlands,  founded in 2018, has set out to examine the behaviour of different plastics during sorting and washing. The goal is to optimise processes quantitatively, qualitatively and with more efficient energy use, in  order to promote plastics recycling in line with the circular economy model. Dutch and foreign clients  are already showing great interest in the testing options. “With its modular design, Lindner Washtech’s  plastic washing system, to be installed in mid-2022, will make a significant contribution to our research  and the optimisation of various plastic streams,” says Martine Brandsma, director of the NTCP. 

Tucked away in Friesland, a northern Dutch province, lies the 50.000-strong community of Heerenveen. Since  2018, it has also been home to the National Test centre Circular Plastics (NTCP). It is Europe’s first  independent testing and research centre which can analyse heterogeneous plastic waste streams down to the  smallest part. Rather than relying on usual test set-ups which are commonly used in research institutions, it is  instead equipped with state-of-the-art facilities: raw, industrial, noisy and… using real waste. 

Playing with the Settings 

NTCP’s concept is actually quite simple: the more plastic that enters the correct sorting stream and then takes  the correct route to the relevant mechanical and chemical recyclers, the higher the percentage of plastics that  remain in the loop. Though this may sound simple in theory, the reality is more complex. According to  Brandsma, “It’s like a chess game, played on seven boards all at once – and chess moves are being made on  each one.” When one applies this to recycling, this means that everyone who takes part in the process – be it  the collectors, sorters or recyclers – is in a constant state of development. This means that the system too is  constantly changing. In order to examine individual or larger steps in the process, the NTCP has a 25 by 20  metre long, and 9 metre high, industrial sorting system. This simulates the entire sorting process (up to 2 t/h).  The modular design allows for settings to be adapted to different testing requirements, which can then be  analysed in detail. In this way, one can also test how different sorting techniques interact. 

A New Washing System  

NTCP’s current sorting system takes up half of the thousand square metres of available production space. The  other half is reserved for a new washing system, which will be commissioned from and installed by the plastic  recycling specialist Lindner Washtech in August 2022. Lindner Washtech’s modular system allows for each  individual step of the washing process to be examined and quantified in detail. Freek Van Rhijn, technical  director of the NTCP says, “Soon we will be able to simulate and optimise the entire washing process for all  materials. From shredding, dry washing, cold and hot washing, density separation, mechanical and thermal  drying, all the way to separating with a flake sorter. We can also focus on the detergents required and the  environmental impact of using more or less water. How does washing by five or ten degrees less affect energy consumption? What ends up in the waste water and how much does it cost to dispose of? With the new  washing system, we can examine every single step, from sorting all the way to the final clean plastic flake.” 

For several months, Van Rhijn has worked closely with Lindner Washtech’s engineers to develop the new  plastic washing system. Harald Hoffmann, the firm’s Managing Director from Großbottwar (Germany), is happy  to actively help shape this flagship project. He is convinced that the testing system as a whole will have a huge  impact on the recycling industry and is a major leap forward. “The modular system will soon make it possible  for different types of plastic to undergo different washing tests. This is made more feasible as the modules can  be independently integrated into the process. In addition, the washing modules can be separately adapted to  the requirements of each kind of plastic and its degree of contamination. This flexibility creates multiple  opportunities for process optimisation at every step of the way, while ensuring high-quality recycled material.  This kind of research and testing not only actively contributes to recycling profitability, it also increases the rate  of recycling and environmental protection,” says Hoffmann. 

In addition to supplying the complex washing system, made up of flexible and highly specialised components,  Lindner Washtech is also including a universal plastic shredder from its Antares series, as well as a wet  granulator. The washing process can be minutely adapted through its different components to suit any kind of  input material and its varying degrees of contamination. To this end, a dry cleaner, pre-washer, friction washer  or various hot-wash components are also available. The client can choose from various options when it comes  to material separation and drying – which can be chosen to develop and design the optimal process for the  material at hand. The NTCP system will be equipped with a mechanical dryer, a step dryer, as well as thermal  drying specifically for plastic film. 

Independent Advice 

Since the NTCP is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, it reinvests all its profits, and equally addresses  different organisations and stakeholders within the circular plastic recycling chain. Many national and  international companies have already expressed an interest in collaborations and partnerships. Freek van  Rhijn, who came on board as technical director in October 2019, is not surprised that NTCP has logged so  many orders since its inception: “When people come here, they can’t believe their eyes. They may have  imagined a lab with a few small machines, but this is a real industrial plant. Everyone we speak to sees the  benefits of operating at this scale.” Orders have come in from a variety of large and small firms, including  sorters, recyclers, brand owners, retailers, packers and other stakeholders in the plastic recycling industry.  These, alongside international brands, have all approached the NTCP with research and testing requests. 

Lindner Washtech also intends to use this facility to further develop its washing components and to test  prototypes. “In future, we want to make the most of the NTCP’s testing possibilities for our own research and  development. We will also ensure that our latest innovations are made available to the NTCP for test runs.  Ultimately, the entire plastics industry benefits from testing facilities of this magnitude,” says Georg Krenn,  Technical Director at Lindner Washtech.