Composite packaging is great to store food in, but difficult to recycle. Only a small part of the packaging can be used to make new cartons and the rest is incinerated. This led to the birth of Recoma; a Swedish company that makes construction material out of old packaging.
Composite packaging contains aluminium and plastic content, which makes it difficult to recycle. To do so, the paper needs to go through a separation process, which uses large amounts of water and energy. What cannot be re-used then goes to incineration.
Recoma’s business idea is to use the materials that go to incineration to instead make new boards for construction or furniture. Plastic and aluminium, which have previously been seen as a problem, have several functions in Recoma’s products. Thanks to the plastic in the carton waste, Recoma’s boards have a waterproof surface. Thanks to aluminium, the insulation value becomes better on the board.
How it works
The product is created by cutting the cartons into small pieces, which are then heated up to be pressed back together under high temperatures. The paper makes the product strong, and the plastic serves as a binding material. Recoma doesn’t add or take away any materials, meaning that the product is made only from recycled materials and can be recycled again. Using material that would otherwise go to waste also means that the company can keep down costs.
Recycling and upcycling
Currently, Recoma recovers 4,000 tonnes of composite packaging every year, which saves about 2,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions yearly, according to a study by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
– The industry is facing a sustainability revolution and we are proud to contribute to the transition towards zero waste and zero-emission building materials, says Max Rosenberg, CEO and founder of Recoma.
Recoma’s factory in the south of Sweden was inaugurated in April 2023. In May of the same year, the Swedish retail chain Byggmax introduced Recoma’s products in their assortment in the Nordic countries.